2 Thessalonians and Hell: Separation From or Wrath Coming Forth From God?

Is Hell eternal seperation from God or the experience of wrath pouring forth from God for an eternity? Those who argue for the former often appeal to 2 Thessalonians 1:9. In a paper I recently posted on academia.edu, I argue that the best reading of the Greek preposition apo (“away from”) in this verse is “[coming forth] from,” that is, it indicates the point from which something moves away from.  Having argued this, I then expound briefly why the doctrine of Hell as the Thessalonians and the rest of the Bible expounds it matters.

You can download or read it here.

An Outline of David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion

Originally published posthumouly in 1779, David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Theology sounded the death knell for natural theology. Natural theology was the attempt to discern the character and existence of God from creation alone, apart from revelation. Addressing arguments from the appearance of design in the world (a posteriori), what is now called the cosmological arguement (a priori), and the moral argument, Hume describes in an engaging manner the interactions of an ‘orthodox’ Christian, Demea (who is really a Christian mystic); a deist, Cleanthes; and a empircal skeptic, Philo. Though the dialogues seem to favour Cleanthes as Hume’s representative, Philo throughout best represents Hume’s thought and is consistently given the upper hand in the dialogues: it is in Philo, then, that we should seek Hume’s voice. Speaking through Philo, Hume concludes that everyone must concede that the first cause of the universe bears some remote resemblance to man, yet that this not so very different from atheism and such a concession, apart from revelation, cannot be further explained and can have no effect on the way a person lives his life–it is a practically meaningless concession. In light of his rejection elsewhere of the possibility of revelation, we see here in Philo the intent of Hume’s book: thinly disguised by the concluding paragraph, Philo intends the reader to conclude with him that God is not clear in creation and that any first cause we attribute to the universe is nothing like the Christian God–it would be unknowable, probably evil, and unable affect the lives of anyone.

Apart from revelation, then, Hume’s book is a devestating critique of religion–a critique that is strikingly relevant today, parroted often by the New Atheists. Yet we don’t live in world without revelation: God has made Himself abundantly clear in  creation, so much so that all are held accountable, and has revealed Himself from the beginning of His creation verbally to His creatures. Humes argument is a devestating critque of religion that would start with man as the ultimate reference point for meaning, that would make man’s autonomous reason the measure of God’s existence and attributes. In so doing, Hume’s book is a valuable read for the biblically saturated Christian today. He shows that to begin with man’s autonomous reason is to end up without God, but God has never left it up to our autonomous reason: in making us in His image, we have been born with the interpretive tools necessary to accurately discern His invisible attributes in His creation (Rom. 1:18ff): it is only in our unrighteousness that we suppress this knowledge and attempt to work on the foundation of our finite reason alone. More than this, God has also revealed Himself clearly in His Scriptures: the Bible testifies to the fullness of His character as man in this life can know Him and His work. When one begins with Scripture, Hume’s arguments appear hollow.

To aid the interested reader in better understanding Hume’s argument, I have provided below an outline of Hume’s Dialogues summarizing each part of the book and with it a shorter outline .

a) An Outline and Summary of David Hume’s Dialogues

b) An Outline of Hume’s Dialogues

 

The Rhetoric of Repentence

I recently posted another one of my papers on Academia.edu:

Why does the author of 1 & 2 Samuel break off the account of the taking of Rabbah in 2 Samuel 11:1 to recount David’s adultery and murder, only to resume it in 2 Samuel 12:26-31?  From this inclusio and other literary features of the narrative, it is argued that the narrator carefully crafts the narrative of Nathan’s rebuke and David’s repentance in 2 Samuel 11:27-12:25 to demonstrate God’s faithfulness to His promises and David’s true repentance, with the result that God would still provide David with a sure house and victory over his enemies.

You can download or read it here

In God whose Word I Praise, In God I Trust

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God. (John 6:68-69)

 

When many disciples had abandoned Jesus, offended by his words, Peter and the apostles response was to hold fast to Jesus; why? Where else would they go: if Jesus was who He said He was, then in Him alone was hope and truth. The same can, and should, be said of our doctrine of Scripture. If Scripture is what it claims to be—the very words of the eternal creator, the trustworthy Lord of all—then where else could we turn? It is through the Scriptures that we today know Jesus to be the sinless Son of God who died for our sins and rose again for our justification, if we abandon them, where then is our hope? Will we turn to tradition? The creeds and the Fathers all build on the Scriptures: without a trustworthy foundation supporting their teachings, their testimony is useless. Will we turn to history? it may—and that is a big ‘may’—tell us what happened, but it cannot tell us the significance of what happened. Will we turn to science? it may give us much insight into the world and testify to the glorious creativity of our Lord, but it rests itself on God’s testimony that creation is rational and orderly—that there is unity to the chaos of matter—to function. Will we turn to experience, subjective judgment? without God’s testimony that He created the heavens and the earth, that creation is real and there is God guiding it in His sovereign power, I would have no way of knowing that I exist, let alone that anyone else exists—that I can trust my senses, that there is rationality behind experience so that I can trust the law of non-contradiction.

If the God of Scripture is who He says He is, how can we go anywhere else other than His self-revelation? If God exists, an attempt to live consistently in the world apart from Him can only descend into the utter chaos of nihilistic egoism without a hope of knowing anything. I came to know God and cherish His Word  because “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). But I now cling fast, for where else could I turn? Having beheld the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, where else could I turn, where else could I ground my hope, my joy? Where else could I look for strength in the day of trouble than the fount of God’s self-revelation in Scripture? I hold fast to Scripture because the God I see there is infinitely beautiful and glorious, holding fast my gaze (2 Cor. 3:7-18), and because without this firm foundation, I would be caught adrift in a bottomless sea of skepticism, subverted by the hopeless attempt to explain a created universe apart from its creator. As David held fast God’s Word amidst the trials of physical affliction, I know I must hold fast the Word in the midst of the epistemological onslaught leveled at me by the World around:

When I am afraid,

I put my trust in you.

In God, whose word I praise,

in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can flesh do to me?…

You have kept count of my tossings;

put my tears in your bottle.

Are they not in your book?

Then my enemies will turn back

in the day when I call.

This I know, that God is for me.

10 In God, whose word I praise,

in the Lord, whose word I praise,

11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.

What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:3-4, 8-11)

Snippet from Habakkuk Commentary Notes on Hab 1:5-6b

This snippet, taken from a section of my forthcoming commentary on Habakkuk, reflects upon the theological significance of Hab. 1:5-6b for our present circumstances.

https://www.academia.edu/27627059/Snippet_from_Habakkuk_Commentary_Notes_on_Hab_1_5-6b

Towards a Biblical Theology of Imputation: a Consideration of an Old Testament Root for Christ’s Imputed Righteousness in Romans

In this paper, it is argued that Paul teaches imputed righteousness in Romans and that this doctrine has its roots in the Biblical storyline invoked by Paul in the introduction of the letter. Genesis 15:6 is discussed as the primary Old Testament text that anticipates imputation, but Habakkuk 2:4 is referenced as an essential step in the progressive revelation of the doctrine.

It can be read at Academia.edu