A friend of mine, who I learned is an Atheist, once argued with me about suffering; more specifically viruses. I didn’t have the best explanation on everything he desired to talk to me about at the time, but then again only God will know the answer to every question out there. Thinking about that complicated conversation and being a bit depressed recently, I felt the whole idea of Good VS Evil and the concept of suffering itself were things I ought to brush up better apologetically. Because of my desire to learn more about those common occurrences, I picked up a copy of The Goodness of God by Randy Alcorn. Although this book is only 117 pages, I feel it was a very good read and inspires me to read even more books concerning the common complaint “Why does God allow suffering?”
The Goodness of God, is quite philosophical and thought-provoking. Randy Alcorn examines various topics like Sin, alternative world views, free will, justice, global depravity, love, natural disasters, natural selection, death, etc through logical argumentation. While discussing the big picture which is morality (you know the idea of Good and Evil), he also plentifully provides many passages of scripture in support of a Good and loving God despite all of the suffering within our world. Obviously, this book won’t answer every thought or question a person may conceive, although even if this book were over 1000 pages it still wouldn’t… This is a great book nevertheless, because it will slice into a person’s mindset and will also inspire additional research/Biblical discussion. Surprisingly, I feel this book would be good for both Christians and Agnostics/Atheists alike.
Book Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Disclaimer: Ben Umnus was given a free copy of this book by Waterbrook Multnomah Press, but he was neither paid for his review nor was he commanded by Waterbrook Multinomah Press to write a positive review. This review is the personal, written opinion of Ben Umnus. This disclaimer is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
*Disclaimer* For the sake of rational discussion I will be using the word “Hell” numerous times. It is only for the sake of reference and not for using as a cuss word. I apologize if you are offended by my use of the word, as my intent is only to talk about that place itself and the theology behind it, because as Christians we need to discuss Hell since its existence is real. I have no intention to purposely blaspheme against the Lord for it is my hope that those who read this if they are not saved will repent of their sins and swear allegiance to Jesus Christ who is the only hope for any persons’ salvation… Whether you agree with what is discussed or not, please be respectful. Any comments with curse words or comments which either are uncivil or is for the sole purpose of acting like a troll will be deleted.
Before I get into this very controversial subject I just realized today is the One Year Anniversary of this Word Press blog. For those who have remained loyal despite any disagreements you may have had with some of my writings, thank you for sticking with me. I appreciate it a lot. If you are new to the Christian Perspective I hope you learn/enjoy this discussion and feel free to make a comment and or subscribe. 🙂
I don’t know a lot about Rob Bell, but I am agreeing with his critics when it comes to what Bell thinks about Hell. You may not have heard, but Rob Bell is the unorthodox pastor of Mars Hill in Grand Rapids Michigan, and he launched a controversial video as a precursor to his new book Love Wins. So I saw a YouTube clip, from Wretched TV’s channel, of Rob Bell talking about Hell and I could touch on some of the things he said, though you ought to see the clip for yourselves, but of all the things he said if I could point out something that bugged me the most… it would be the idea Bell suggested which I have simplified into the effect of the following:
“How can a loving God send good people to Hell?”
and basically mocked the idea that someone like Gandhi, even though he appeared to deny Jesus Christ, is capable of being in Hell. As Todd Friel from Wretched TV said in the You tube link I provided, Mr. Bell is basically endorsing the Universalist, New Age movement concept that “Jesus isn’t the only way to salvation” (which Oprah Winfrey once said on her show) and “if you’re good enough and have done enough then you’ll be in Heaven too.” Take it from someone who used to think that I can do lots of good things and please my way into Heaven (see my Christian Testimony), no! No you can’t be good enough to earn a ticket to Heaven! Without Christ, I am just as Hell bound as anybody else who is apart from God, for I have committed many-MANY sins against God; I have no reason to boast about anything good. By saying what he said, he appears to be basically mocking people who feel or appear to feel (in his opinion) that God purposely sends people to Hell, and because of his interpretation he is mocking conventional Protestantism. This is a serious accusation considering some people have become Atheists because of this issue, not to mention there’s the Calvinistic interpretation of Predestination some believe in (I do not believe the Calvinist view), and of course the attitude of such a statement in itself is offensive and misleading. Sure if God wanted to he could send us all into Hell right now in the blink of an eye, because he has the authority to do such a thing after all he created us and I’m sure when scientists build robots most don’t question if they can destroy their own creation… However, whether one can accurately judge if God literally “sends people” to Hell is irrelevant, because of what we do/say/think. If I could openly respond to Rob Bell himself I would tell him:
“God doesn’t have to send people to Hell, because we condemn ourselves!”
I’m neither dead nor am I God so obviously I don’t know exactly who is in Hell, as well as an exact description of what Hell is like, and I don’t have the authority to condemn anyone. However, what I can say about Hell is that 1) Whoever rejects God is in Hell 2) Whoever rejects God’s son Jesus Christ is in Hell. 3) Our good deeds do not save us from Hell. 4) A person who is in Hell deserves it just as a guilty criminal deserves to be in prison. Like in the video I provided second paragraph, when on trial you don’t get to say to a judge “Yeah I’m guilty of this crime, but I’ve done so much good work for my community, and I try to be nice to all people so what I’ve done outweighs my offense right?” and get away with the crime… No if we did that in the real world, most of us (unless the judge is corrupt) would be convicted and sent to prison anyhow. In regard to Gandhi, no doubt did he do some great things for the Indian people, but according to Bible verses such as Isaiah 64:6 good deeds themselves without God are irrelevant. (by the way, the rag Isaiah speaks of is one which a woman wipes up her period blood… gross I know, but it’s a gruesome point to remember.) What bugs me the most about Rob Bell’s statement is what he is suggesting denies the concepts of Justice and Grace as well he is twisting around the definition of Love. In my opinion, Bell’s simply saying “Hey it doesn’t matter that someone denies the one who created him. As long as someone does what others think is good then that person ought to get into Heaven too.” Sure it matters whether someone knows God or not:
1) As Todd Friel said in the video, how do we know how good we have to be? And what is the standard of that goodness? No one can answer that first question without giving some personal opinion, possibly related to someone else’s deeds… We all have our personal standards of right and wrong, but in reality they do not completely match up with what God wants of us, not to mention our standards change constantly while God’s don’t change. The simplest laws we ought to be obeying is the 10 commandments in addition to the rest of the Bible. We fail to meet those standards, because of our current sinfulness and the sin which our distant ancestors Adam and Eve committed long ago…
2) Such an idea that a person doesn’t need Jesus or God to be considered “good” and “worthy of Heaven” conflicts with various scriptural examples like the passages provided in the previous paragraphs, including what Jesus said in John 14:21. It does matter whether I have sworn allegiance to God let alone it being the correct God. I’m not just talking about the God of the Bible here, there are other religions out there like Islam that say “If you’re following the wrong God you’re in big trouble.” (I’m summarizing) Not to mention in a worldly example, if I suddenly decide to become a Terrorist against the United States do you really think if I did something like stole thousands of dollars or bombed some people for the sake of an opposing country/organization that I’d be treated nicely by the United States Government? “Oh well we don’t like what he did, but because he and his group approve it then that’s ok, I mean he meant well.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!
3) The after life does not function like a democracy! I mean if this “majority rules” mentality were accurate for general morality, then I could rape someone without guilt or consequence if I got enough people to support it. We people do so many horrible things, I don’t even have to provide evidence for that because all one has to do is watch the news or look outside their window depending on where they live! Not to mention if morality were determined by a collective consensus, then Grace wouldn’t exist very often… We people, I know I fit this especially at times, can be so unforgiving! What Jesus did for us by dying an innocent death on the cross, which by the way was voted upon when they chose to release Barabbas, he died for all the bad stuff we do and say and think… Like in our legal system we are not entitled to mercy, again if God really wanted to he could just teleport us all into Hell right now, but God doesn’t do that because of his mercy and love for us. He is giving all of us a chance to seek his son, Jesus Christ who died in our place. We have all sinned against him time after time after time…
Hell, in the most simplest sense which I’m able to comprehend without making any false judgments, is a place where God is not present; the Bible calls it an eternal lake of fire. All those who reject God will finally get their wish if they choose to go to Hell. I say choose, because we have the choice whether to repent of our sinfulness and put our faith and trust into our Lord Jesus Christ (by swearing loyalty and allegiance to him) the Prophesied Savior who delivered us from our wages of sin, or we can reject God and continue live for ourselves for the rest of our lives and when dead reside in a place where God, who gives good and perfect gifts, will not be present. I do not mean to scare anyone with “Turn or Burn” style theology, because that is not my intention today. I simply feel I must confess to whoever reads this that Hell is a real place that shouldn’t be dismissed so easily. Anyone who rejects God and sins against him deserves to be in there, for the sake of Justice. But God who loves his creations, without violating our free will, sent his only son Jesus Christ to die in our place so that undeservedly we are forgiven for those sins, and all that is required is for us to believe in Jesus Christ and live for him. I have written this, because I don’t want anyone to go to Hell, we should never wish or hope that upon anyone no matter what they’ve done, rather for those who commit various misdeeds we ought to hope for their repentance… Rob Bell by denying the grace of Jesus Christ and belittling what Hell is supposed to be, is a wolf who is leading those who listen to him into heresy…
Indeed the times have changed! There are so many things one could name that is radically different today compared to within the last 20 years alone… I mean I remember while growing up the internet was just becoming popular, some would probably call me old just for saying that lol. Well you may have wondered or asked the question “I wonder what someone from a previous time period would think of the modern era?” I’m sure you’ve thought about that, at the very least when talking about politics I mean who hasn’t thought: “What would the founding fathers say?” (if you care about politics that is) Time Changer poses a similar question only this is regarding someone from 1890.
To sum up the plot real simple, seminary professor Dr. Russell Carlisle plans to publish a book and desires an endorsement from the seminary for his manuscript. One of the seminary board members, Dr. Norris Anderson (the bald guy on the cover), does not give his endorsement, because Russell implies it’s ok to promote good morals without the authority of Jesus Christ. In order to receive the seminary’s endorsement it has to be a unanimous vote, therefore to resolve the situation privately Norris invites him to his home and eventually talks Russell into venturing into our time period to see how our world operates. As one could expect while in the future Dr. Carlisle is freaked out by some of the differences with our time like the clothes, the cars, peoples’ manners/attitudes, the church, entertainment, school/science, etc. All in all, Russell is appalled by much of the things associated with our time period like the divorce rate (here’s a good video regarding divorce by the way) and how some people treat church like a country club, but in Christ’s example and because of his genuine love for people he still tries to help others like Eddie Martinez (played by Paul Rodriguez) and the congregation of that church.
At first I didn’t warm up to Russell, but once he came into the modern era I began to feel for him. I liked several of the things said in the movie like what Michelle the librarian said about movies (her Christian testimony is similar to how I became a Christian), as well as what Dr. Carlisle said about science, I also agreed with Norris’ assessment of morality in that ‘Satan is not against good morals… he is opposed to Jesus Christ’, I liked the special effects for the time machine, and I also felt the mannerisms of Dr. Carlisle seem realistic towards someone from the late 1800’s. I did have a few minor complaints though… I felt Time Changers could have done more with the antagonists, I also feel that though I generally agreed with Michelle Bain’s assessment I do feel there are some good movies out there that don’t have the Christian label, and I do agree with Dr. Carlisle in that we are in the times Paul was talking about in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 but the very end of the movie where Norris tries to figure out when the last days happen is a bit conflicting with what Jesus said in Matthew 24: 36-39. (yet I do get the point that they were trying to say it could happen at any moment.) Overall, this was a very good movie and if you notice you’ll see one of the seminary board members is the ‘jump to conclusions’ guy from Office Space.
TCP Movie Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.