Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dear Friends,

The following are a few things stirring in my heart that I'd like to share with you. (Be sure to read the very bottom of this update to see this month's special. Last quarter, we gave away one of my books for free.)
The Recent Controversy Over Hell
Beyond the fact that at least two authors will be making millions of dollars (yes, millions) on recent books about this subject, here are my candid observations about it:
1. There is nothing new in the recent discussion on hell. It's all mostly a rehash of an old debate. If you are someone who is interested in the salient points of the debate and want to see the back-and-forth, you simply have to read one book: Four Views on Hell. It's all there. Seriously, this is by far the best book ever written on the subject.
2. Many of the Christians who have been fussing over this subject have been uncharitable, uncivil, and ungracious in their discourse. This, to my mind, is an even greater issue than the actual controversy. How we treat those with whom we disagree speaks volumes. If we disagree with other Christians, let us disagree in Christ. I address some of this in my book, Revise Us Again as well as in this blog post.
3. Here are my concluding thoughts on the matter:
* hell (judgment after death: Matt. 5:21-22; Heb. 6:2; 10:27, etc.) is real. The Bible is full of references to it (Matt. 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:9; Luke 12:5; John 3:36, etc). However,
whatever the specific nature of hell is (literal, metaphorical, annihilationistic, etc.), it's unpleasant and shouldn't be dismissed.
* the greatest Christian minds have disagreed as to the exact nature of hell (damnation), and there is much about it that's simply subject to speculation.
* Christians lose their way when they spend lots of time trying to analyze the fine points of hell while showing mild interest in knowing Jesus Christ deeply and restoring God's eternal purpose in Him. I'd love to see the same passion that some Christians have over the hell debate applied to pursuing the Lord Himself. I'd love to see the same amount of attention given to the eternal purpose that's being given to hell right now.
* many people will be surprised as to who makes it in the end and who doesn't (see Luke 13:28).
* as I've stated once before, when I get finished exploring and declaring the unsearchable riches of Christ with my brothers and sisters, I'll get around to dissecting the anatomy of hell.
'Nuff said.
Lessons We Can Learn from Harold Camping's Failed Prediction
Here are some of the more important lessons we can learn from the failed May 21st "end of the world" prediction . . . I think.
1. Leaders who have a lot of influence over a lot of people must have peers. Camping hasn't allowed himself to have any peers. He is a man fully on his own out on a limb (and sawing hard). If a servant of the Lord doesn't have peers, he or she will go off the beam at some point and end up hurting a massive amount of people.
2. God will never contradict His Word. Jesus made clear that no one knows the day or the hour of His coming. A simple statement, yes? But some have complicated it. Or ignored it.
3. Many Christians don't know their history. Camping is part of a long trail of date-setters who set dates for Christ's return. All were epic fails. They've always ended up the same way. Recall the book "88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988." I watched the author as he was interviewed several times before 1988. He was so sure he was right. All his math added up. But his prediction failed. 1988 came and went. The same has happened with every date-setter for Christ's return before and after him.
If we don't learn from the mistakes of the past, then those mistakes lose their benefit. The benefit being: Don't repeat the same mistakes. If we will make mistakes, let's make new ones. A similar thing is happening today with "discipleship." I've spoken about this publicly, but I wonder: who is listening?
Moving Beyond Evangelical
I've recently launched a new blog. One of the most important posts (articles) I've written is called Beyond Evangelical. Click on the link and read it. If you resonate, pass it on via the "share" buttons on the bottom of the post (Facebook, Twitter, Dig, etc.).
This post has already gone viral. It seems to be giving a voice to thousands of believers who don't wish to pitch their tents with the left or the right. They are tired of the left vs. right debates.
They wish to move forward instead.
I believe there are thousands of Christians who are moving "beyond evangelical" who don't know we exist. They also don't have language to articulate what they feel and believe.
Beyond Evangelical (Part I) was written for them. I hope you will join me in helping these people connect with one another via sharing the post. They need to know that they are not alone.
Many of us are also connecting on Twitter and getting to know each other there. So join us on Twitter too. Just click the "follow" button when you get there, and get connected. It's free.

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