Confessing Christ Bloggers
Author: gfackre Created: 5/11/2008 4:31 PM
Christian Doctrine and Contemporary Issues

By gfackre on 7/10/2009 7:27 PM

Everlasting Death?

All biblical images of life everlasting imply, indeed even portray, its opposite. What would that contrary be?

The Yes of “life together” would face a No of “life apart,” everlasting estrangement from the relationships God intended for the world: no blessed participation in the Life Together of the triune Being; no joyful celebration of the same; no rapturous bonding in the unities God intended for us—familial, ecclesial, political; no reconciliation with or of the natural cosmos. So understood, everlasting death is more horrible than popular portrayals of fiery pain; our worst anthropomorphic imaginings seem far short of the hell of…life apart.

The fearsomeness of everlasting death, however conceived, has prompted some to argue for more hospitable endings. The most generous is that of universalism in which all will be brought to eternal life, given God’s universal desire for all to be saved (1 Tim 2:4) and ev ...
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By gfackre on 7/5/2009 7:26 AM

James Luther Adams taught a generation of his students that what we hold to be true eschatologically will be what we work for ethically. In this case it means that a passionate ecological ethic rises out of a conviction that God will bring a nature renewed.


Miroslav Volf summarizes the comprehensive Christian belief in life everlasting we have been describing in this way" "the final reconciliation of 'all things,' grounded in the work of Christ the reconciler and accomplished by the Spirit of communion, is the process by which the whole creation along with human beings will be freed from transience and sin to reach the state of eternal peace and joy in the communion with the triune God." [Miroslav Volf, "Enter Into Joy! Sin, Death and the World to Come," in THE END OF THE WORLD AND THE ENDS OF GOD: SCIENCE AND THEOLOGY ON ESCHATOLOGY, ed. John pOlki ...
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By gfackre on 6/22/2009 8:50 AM

The life that lasts forever includes the redemption of a fallen nature. We have to do in the end with "a new heaven and a new earth" (Rev. 21:1) as well as a New Jerusalem and new saints. The latter live in a new kingdom settled on a new earth under a new heaven. In such a redeemed creation the struggle for survival will be over, for "the wolf will live with the lamb and the leopard will lie down with the kid" (Isa 11:6). The animosity between human nature and cosmic nature is finished for "the nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adders den" (11:18).

While the Western tradition had a place for the natural dimension of everlasting life, certainly so in its teaching on the resurrection of the body, it was the Easter Church that gave it special accent: "The whole of nature is destined for glory....The divine Spirit which in its fulness is poured out from Christ on all who believe in him, whose ...
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By gfackre on 6/6/2009 7:11 AM

We look forward, as Christians, to an "everlasting" kingdom come, and in it the ultimate city of God (2 Peter 1:31; Luke 11:2, 13:29, 18:25, 22:16; 2 Timothy 4:18; Rev.21:10-26). Again the qualifier about the eschatological commonwealth, for we have to do with a realm like nothing we've seen on ourearth of ordinary flesh and blood (1 Cor. 15:20), a new Jerusalem "coming down out of heaven from God" (Rev. 21:10), not of human manufacture. The light imagery contrasts with the shadowy structures we inhabit: "It has the glory of God and a radiance like a rare jewel....And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb (Rev. 21: 11,23). And the coming together of waring states is so new to us, for "the nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it" (21:24). In every systemic setting, justice will "roll down as like waters, and rightesousness like an ever-flowing strea ... Read More »

By gfackre on 6/2/2009 7:13 AM

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By gfackre on 5/25/2009 6:38 AM

Life together in the triune Being is love in its purity. What else can communion with Christ everlasting be than eternal love? Indeed, a life together with the ultimate Life Together is one in which "love never ends" (1 Cor. 13:8).

The love of Christ for us in this world is a busy one. In the Gospels he reaches out ever and again to those with manifold needs. So too at the end he will "wipe away every tear from our eyes" and "mourning and crying and pain will be no more," for life everlasting has come when "death will be no more" (Rev. 21:4). He does this as the 'Alpha and Omega" who promises that "to the thirsty I will give water as a spring from the water of life" (21:6).And our response is one of unending praise and thanksgiving to God (7:15), and a loving outreach to others ( a christologically read Isa 11:6-9; 40:31). Can the never-ending love not include loving God with the mind, as well as heart and soul (Matt:22:37), perhaps ...
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By gfackre on 5/21/2009 2:47 PM

And just what is "life"? The Greek terms zoe and psyche are used throughout the New Testament, the former tending to be associated with our physical life, and the latter our life with God, though the former can sometimes include the latter (see Theological Dictionary of the Bible) Our focus is the person's life with God in its ultimate sense, the final act in the creedal drama. A thread of New Testament allusions to personal life everlasting speak of "seeing" and "knowing" God "face to face" ( 1 Cor 13:12; Rev. 22:4). But what poor words we have in speaking of this encounter. How different and deeper is it than our conventional seeings and knowings. Hints of it do exist in our Christian life, yes, for eternal/everlasting life begins in time, even as it comes to flower in eternity. As we see and know Jesus, God is among us as the his promised real presence in Word and ad hoc encounters of eternal life. But all this is seeing and knowing "in a ... Read More »

By gfackre on 5/16/2009 3:12 PM

Everlasting life in classical Christian teaching is multi-dimensional--personal, corporate and cosmic. We begin with the personal Read More »

By gfackre on 4/9/2009 6:53 AM

This week is an exercise in further sorting of the elements of Christian hope that have arisen in the exploration so far with more to come. This in preparation for a brief engagement with Donald Bloesch’s chapter on “The Dawn of Hope” in the final volume of his 7 volume systematics series on Christian Foundations, entitled The Last Things . As a leading evangelical thinker, Bloesch roots his eschatology in Scripture, taking up in this section some of the specific texts that allude to hope. I want to apply the schema that follows to those texts and see what can be learned from the interchange. But first the taxonomy of Christian hope that follows.

A Ultimate Hope is the eschatological finale. It is divided into two parts

1) Last Things: The creedal foursome with which we have begun: the resurrection of the body, the return of Christ, final judgment, everlasting life

2) Next to Last Things. This the variously identified as “the interim stat ...
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By gfackre on 3/31/2009 6:51 PM

Life Everlasting...

The last of the four great creedal affirmations. But what about “hell”? You left off earlier promising to deal with it And now you are going on to everlasting life instead of facing into “hell and damnation.” One more example of how “hell” has dropped out of the vocabulary of the mainline Christians today?

No, but a different way of approaching it. To get some glimmer of what “everlasting death” is, we must first fix our gaze on “everlasting life.” While whatever we claim to see is through a mirror dimly/glass darkly, surely the former must be the absence of the latter. So our fourth stained glass window is the place we shall both begin and conclude. Conclude the Grand Narrative, but also begin to glimpse what its alternative might be.

For this section, I shall adapt some of what I’ve already written in the chapter “The Life Everlasting: Et vitam aeternam” in a book edited ...
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