Engaging the CultureTweet
Posted 1/17/17 at 11:19 AM | George Sarris
In a recent interview with New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, Tim Keller was asked a question that both Christians and non-Christians wonder about at one time or another.
I’m troubled by the evangelical notion that people go to heaven only if they have a direct relationship with Jesus. Doesn’t that imply that billions of people — Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus — are consigned to hell because they grew up in non-Christian families around the world? That Gandhi is in hell?
As usual, Tim’s response was perceptive and satisfactory . . . as far as it went. However, he never really answered the question. Instead, he ended his comment by suggesting that there is an answer, but that answer is hidden in the mystery of God.
There is still the question of fairness regarding people who have grown up away from any real exposure to Christianity . . . I don’t think it is insurmountable. Just because I can’t see a way doesn’t prove there cannot be any such way. If we have a God big enough to deserve being called God, then we have a God big enough to reconcile both justice and love. FULL POST
Posted 12/22/16 at 12:10 PM | George Sarris
The world changed when Jesus was born and time itself is now measured in relation to that event!
Every person and event occurring before Jesus was born, we identify as BC - Before Christ. And, every person and event occurring after his birth, we identify as AD - Anno Domini, which is Latin for, “In the Year of our Lord.” Even the alternative designation of BCE and CE used by some modern authors, archeologists, museums and others not wanting to specifically acknowledge the implications of the dating formula must admit that the “Common Era” began with the birth of Christ.
What we will be celebrating on December 25 was actually the pivotal event of history!
But why did this Person have such a significant impact on the world? As Christians we sometimes overlook who He really was. The message that is at the heart of Christianity is that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world!
The angel who appeared to the shepherds on that glorious night to announce the birth of the promised Savior did not say, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for some of the people,” or even “for most of the people.” The angel said, FULL POST
Posted 7/19/16 at 2:22 PM | George Sarris
In light of yesterday’s events in Dallas, I just wanted to thank you for your willingness to be a policeman and protect me and my family.
I said those words, with tears actually beginning to well up in my eyes, as my wife, daughter and I walked toward the Minor League baseball stadium in Bridgeport, CT to watch the Bridgeport Bluefish play the Sugar Land, TX “Skeeters” (yes, their official logo is a tough, angry looking mosquito!).
The officer looked at me . . . somewhat surprised . . . and said with a grateful smile,
Thank you. I really appreciate it!
I said something similar to another police officer at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Fairfield on Sunday afternoon after the murders of three policemen in Baton Rouge. He, too, was surprised and encouraged.
I really appreciate you saying that,” he said. “We don’t often get encouragement like that. FULL POST
Posted 6/29/16 at 2:09 PM | George Sarris
When Zondervan included an essay on Christian Universalism in their recent publication of Four View on Hell, Second Edition, many people thought it was "incredible" that a well-respected evangelical publisher would acknowledge that universal salvation is a position Christians should seriously consider.
What was even more "incredible" to them was the observation by the book’s editor, Preston Sprinkle, that Christians can no longer dismiss this view as unorthodox!
But why should anyone consider it incredible to believe that God will actually do what He says He will do?
There are undoubtedly many things in this world that can legitimately be considered “incredible.”
But why should anyone – especially those in the religious community – consider it incredible to believe that God will ultimately save the entire world?
An Incredible God
The God who created all things is all-powerful. The God who created all things is all-wise. It is the very nature of the God who created all things to love. And this Creator has specifically said He desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. FULL POST
Posted 4/7/16 at 4:26 PM | George Sarris
Until now, most Christians have assumed that evangelicals – people who base their convictions clearly on the teaching of Scripture – cannot possibly be universalists – people who believe that God will one day redeem all mankind
With the release on March 8 of Zondervan’s Four Views on Hell (Second Edition), that understanding suddenly changed!
For the first time, a well respected, evangelical publishing house has clearly acknowledged that universalism is a view Christians should seriously consider.
An Evangelical Universalist
The four views presented in the book are: Eternal Conscious Torment, Terminal Punishment, Purgatory, and an essay by Robin Parry on Christian Universalism.
According to the book’s general editor, Preston Sprinkle – FULL POST
Posted 12/15/15 at 12:11 PM | George Sarris
Tiny Tim got it right. And Charles Dickens made it clear with the simple addition of a single space in the text.
The last two words of the child’s famous saying could have been written as one word. But then the meaning might have been misunderstood. The little boy could have been asking “everyone” to pronounce a blessing on him and his family – God bless us, everyone!
But that’s not what he was asking. His request was directed to God, asking Him to bless “every one!”
The real message of Christmas is not that God loves only some people – Tiny Tim . . . the Cratchit family . . . even a changed Scrooge.
The message at the heart of Christianity is that God loves each and every person He created.
He loves you. He loves all those you personally know and love. He even loves all those you don’t know personally . . . and may not love.
The Savior of the World
The angel who appeared to the shepherds on that glorious night to announce the birth of the promised Savior said, FULL POST
Posted 11/11/15 at 3:43 PM | George Sarris
I like happy endings. Most people do.
That’s why great stories usually end with the guy getting the girl . . . the hero defeating his foe . . . the adventurer succeeding in his quest.
Sure, there are tragic elements along the way. The guy loses the girl . . . for a while. The usurping foe overpowers the hero . . . for a time. The adventurer gets thwarted in his quest . . . until he overcomes all odds and achieves his goal. In the end, good triumphs over evil and all is well.
Will that happen in the greatest story ever told -- the story of the Creation, Fall and Redemption of mankind?
When the last page is read and the book is closed, will the Hero in this story ultimately succeed or fail in His quest to “seek and save what was lost?”
Does this story have a happy ending . . . or is the greatest story actually a tragedy?
It Wasn’t Always a Tragedy
For the first 500 years of the Christian Church, most Christians believed that God would ultimately redeem all of His creation. The story had a happy ending. FULL POST
Posted 7/1/15 at 12:28 PM | George Sarris
“Historic? I’m not sure it’s too strong a word. I can’t think of anything quite like this!”
That’s how Dr. Jerry Walls described the second Rethinking Hell Conference that was held at the prestigious Fuller Theological Seminary June 18-20.
It brought together scholars, pastors and laypeople from the US, Canada and as far away as the UK to discuss an issue that has been the subject of debate and division during most of the history of the Christian Church:
What happens to sinners after we die?
Three very different views have existed from the early church to the present day – each represented by respected leaders . . . and each claiming the authority of Scripture for its beliefs.
The Traditional view states that the righteous will go to heaven, and the wicked will experience endless, conscious suffering in hell.
With Conditional Immortality, eternal life is conditioned on salvation, and only some will meet that condition. The saved go to heaven. The rest die, perhaps suffering for some time after death, until they finally cease to exist. This view is sometimes called Annihilation. FULL POST
Posted 5/21/15 at 8:20 AM | George Sarris
Rethinking Hell. I was blown away when I saw the name of this conference.
I was even more impressed when I learned that it’s the second time scholars and other knowledgeable people with strong beliefs will be getting together to discuss their views . . . and listen to those of others who disagree but hold equally strong beliefs. And I was honored to be asked to participate.
The second Rethinking Hell Conference will be held June 18-20 at the prestigious Fuller Theological Seminary, with all three historic views of what happens after we die being represented . . . those who believe Scripture teaches endless punishment . . . those who believe Scripture teaches the wicked will be annihilated . . . and those who believe Scripture teaches the ultimate restoration of all.
Speakers include a Professor of Systematic Theology at Fuller Seminary; a Senior Research Fellow in Rabbinics and the New Testament; an Editor from Wipf & Stock Publishers; a Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Taylor University; and a Professor of Philosophy and Scholar-in-Residence at Houston Baptist University. FULL POST
Posted 3/31/15 at 11:25 PM | George Sarris
Down through the centuries, that phrase from the Apostles Creed has generated a great deal of thought and discussion.
It describes what the ancient church believed happened between the time on Good Friday when Jesus was crucified, dead and buried, and when on Easter Sunday morning He rose again from the dead.
Images from the ancient church picture Jesus standing on the broken doors of hell, which have fallen in the shape of a cross – to show that by His death, Jesus defeated death and hell.
He holds Adam and Eve by their wrists and is pulling them up out of hell to illustrate that on its own, mankind is unable to defeat sin and death – salvation comes about only by the work of God.
Under the doors, hell is pictured as a chasm of darkness with broken locks and chains strewn about.
Jesus told His disciples that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church. Gates are defensive structures. The imagery is of a church on the offense, attacking the gates of hell and bringing release to those held captive by it. FULL POST