Headed to Aggie-Land

texasA&MI leave tomorrow for a brief trip to College Station, Texas located near … well … it’s in Texas somewhere. My third son, Tyler, will defend his doctoral work and should end the day with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering.

The practice there is for parents and friends to show up to watch the proceeding as professors grill the potential graduate before friends and family with intimidating questions — which has to be more entertaining than watching a graduation ceremony.

So I’m grateful for the opportunity to hear professors talk about enthalpy and such like. (I have no idea what it means either. But chem E people talk about it like it matters. I majored in math and stopped being able to understand Tyler’s discussion of his field about his junior year in college. I just respond with something like, “De miminis non curat lex.” We lawyers can talk in foreign languages, too.)

College Station is always a good trip — although I do have to question why such a ceremony is not on scheduled to match the Alabama vs. A&M game. That would have been nice.

I’ll be back Wednesday. Late. Might or might not comment while gone. But posts will continue per usual.

Oh, and “Roll Tide!!”

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Salvation 2.0: Part 3.5: Gehenna

grace5Jesus and James refer to the fate of the damned as gehenna, usually translated “hell.”

The word is entirely absent from Paul and the other NT writers, who prefer to speak in terms of the damned being destroyed. There is no word for “hell” in the Pauline epistles.

(Interesting, no? How could Paul write half the NT and say nothing about hell, when Jesus said so much? Maybe because we’re misunderstanding Jesus.)

The name means “Valley of Hinnom” or its full form “Valley of the son of Hinnom” … .

The valley was the scene of the idolatrous worship of the Canaanite gods Molech and Baal. This worship consisted of sacrificing children by passing them through a fire on Topheth (a high place) and into the hands of the gods (Jer 7:31; 19:4–5; 32:35). These practices were observed during monarchy at least under the reigns of Ahaz and Manasseh who themselves sacrificed their own children (2 Kgs 16:3; 21:6; 2 Chr 28:3; 33:6). Continue reading

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Salvation 2.0: Part 3.1B: Everlasting, eternal, unquenchable fire

grace5Monty asked about the meaning of “everlasting fire” in the comments. My answer was pretty long and I thought worth posting as a post — because it’s a good question that deserves a thorough answer.


Unquenchable fire

“Everlasting fire” in the NT is generally “unquenchable fire” which, in the NT, is always a reference to Isa 66 — Continue reading

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Salvation 2.0: Part 3.4: The Second Death

grace5The Revelation speaks of the damned suffering a “second death.”

(Rev 2:11 ESV) 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.

(Rev 20:6 ESV)  6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

(Rev 20:14-15 ESV)  14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. 

(Rev 21:7-8 ESV)  7 “The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

The “second death” is death suffered by the damned in the afterlife. They are burned in the lake of fire and sulfur, but nothing says they’ll live forever in torment. Rather, they die a horrible, painful death.

I mean, how does “death” (thanatos) come to mean “not die”? No, the damned die in eternity, but they suffer in their dying in proportion to their sinfulness — with God’s perfect justice. Continue reading

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Salvation 2.0: Part 3.3: Plato and Phaedo

grace5Edward Fudge points out that the question of immortality was a favorite of Greek philosophers. The seminal work on the subject was Plato’s Phaedo, a dialogue on the question that was well-known among First Century Hellenistic people.

Plato presents a debate between Socrates, who argues for innate immortality of the soul, and Cebes, who argues that —

when the [soul] has departed from the body, [it] nowhere any longer exists, but on whatever day a man dies, on that day it is destroyed [diaphtheiretai] and perishes [apolluetai]; the moment it departs and goes forth from the body it is dispersed like breath or smoke, and flies abroad and is gone, and no longer exists anywhere.

Apolluetai is a form of apollumi, the word the New Testament so frequently uses for “destroy” or “kill,” used frequently of the fate of the damned, in nearly all the verses quoted above in which the damned are said to be destroyed. Continue reading

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Salvation 2.0: Part 3.1A: The Early Church Fathers on Conditionalism

grace5Just came across this very thorough study of the writings of the Early Church Fathers relating to Conditionalism and Perpetual Conscious Torment: The Doctrine of Immortality in the Early Church, by Dr. John H. Roller (free download).

Roller goes through all the uninspired writings of the early church fathers to determine who was and wasn’t a Conditionalist or a believer that even the damned have immortal souls.

The Apostolic Fathers are the early church fathers early enough to have known the apostles (whether or not they actually met an apostle). Regarding their preserved writings, Roller concludes, Continue reading

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Salvation 2.0: Part 3.2: “Eternal”

grace5“Eternal” means not so much “forever” as “in the next age.” The Greek is aionios, from aion, meaning age.

Now, one characteristic of the next age is that it will last forever, and so being eternal can sometimes be a reference to how long something lasts — but that is based on context. The word is always a reference to the next age.

The NT (following Judaism) uses “eon” or “age” to divide time into “this present eon” and “the eon that is about to be” or “the coming eon.” The contrast is not simply between time and timelessness, for the “eon that is about to be” is future and shares a specific and identifiable character. The biblical picture of the start of the “coming age” is dramatically painted with broad sequential brush strokes. The new age is not simply a restoration to the primitive and naïve innocence of the earliest stage, but a consummation according to the purposes of “him who is and who was and who is to come” (Rv 1:4). Thus it is designated as the new creation. Continue reading

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Leroy Garrett in the Arms of Jesus

LeroyGarrettI was greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Leroy Garrett, a spiritual giant among the Churches of Christ.

Edward Fudge writes,

In his 2003 autobiography, A Lover’s Quarrel: My Pilgrimage of Freedom Within Churches of Christ, he recalls his year at Freed-Hardeman with gratitude and affection, relating special kindnesses shown him by the college’s namesake and then-president, famed Churches of Christ debater, N. B. Hardeman. Years later, a different president at Freed- Hardeman (H.A. Dixon) had Garrett arrested and charged with “disturbing the peace” when, in defiance of orders from the administration, he accepted the invitation of some ministerial students to discuss religious issues with them in their dorm.

I have read and re-read Garrett’s monumental, definitive history of the Restoration Movement: The Stone-Campbell Movement: The Story of the American Restoration Movement. Other than Murch’s Christians Only: A History of the Restoration Movement, no one else has come close to writing such a truthful, insightful history of our movement.

For many years, Garrett published the Restoration Review and otherwise advocated for change in the Churches of Christ. He was a friend of Carl Ketcherside, and together they worked to establish a better understanding of grace and to end division in the Churches. I’m sad he didn’t live long enough to see an end of our divisiveness, but pleased he lived long enough to see many of the changes he pushed for find fertile ground within the Churches.

A memorial service will be held at Singing Oaks Church of Christ in Denton,Texas on Saturday, October 3rd, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.

He’ll be greatly missed.

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Salvation 2.0: Part 3.1: From



So what are we saved from?


So what happens to those who don’t receive immortality/eternal life? Do they live forever, in perpetual, conscious torment? Or is there a second possibility? From the preceding readings, we would expect the damned to remain mortal — that is, not to last forever. Continue reading

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Salvation 2.0: Part 2.7: A little neo-Anabaptist thought

grace5Now, if all this is true, then the church’s foremost task is to be the Kingdom.

That’s not quite how Hauerwas likes to say it. He says the church’s task is to be the church — which says the same thing but doesn’t bring the OT and Gospel teachings about the Kingdom in quite as directly. So I prefer “Kingdom.” It forces us to ask: “What is the Kingdom?”

In short, the church must be a place where the Sermon on the Mount is lived every day. And Rom 12. And 1 Cor 13 — which is not about marriage but living together in church. Which is harder than being married, I think. I mean, there are so many more people … Continue reading

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