Engaging the Culture
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George Sarris

MDiv Gordon-Conwell, speaker on Biblical & family issues, actor/narrator in New York, tells World's Greatest Stories

Posted 7/26/12 at 11:26 AM | George Sarris

Whatever Happened to Hell? . . . A Response

I read with interest Jerry Newcombe’s article, Whatever Happened to Hell? posted June 19 in the Opinion section of ChristianPost.com. It was apparently written a day before the Colorado shooting.

In the article, Newcombe mentioned with chagrin the republishing into paperback of Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins – which he considered

. . . a major seller that for all practical purposes denies Hell (or the import of it). What makes this more difficult to stomach is that it was written by "an evangelical pastor." 

By placing the reference to Bell as an evangelical pastor in quotes, he clearly questioned the legitimacy of that identification. Newcombe explained in the next paragraph that Bell did not actually deny that Hell exists, but that

. . . he denies essentially that any people will go there. FULL POST

Posted 7/19/12 at 2:37 PM | George Sarris

Heaven & Hell Survey

Would you be willing to take a 6 question survey about your thoughts on Heaven and Hell?

That was the question I asked people sitting in front of the Public Library in New York City on two different days last week.

As you can imagine if you’ve ever been in New York, a lot of people said “No” even before I asked the question. Others were visitors from other countries – some spoke English, some did not. One elderly couple was visiting from Israel. A man and his two daughters were from Columbia. A woman visiting from London thought it was very interesting. And, another who was born in Russia but had lived in New York for the last 20 years, looked forward to an opportunity to freely share her thoughts.

It was clearly an unscientific survey, but I wanted to see what “real” people “really” thought about the afterlife, since death – and not even taxes – is the only thing we can actually be sure of in life!

Interest in the Afterlife

There has been much discussion recently about Heaven and Hell.

On July 6, 2012, Barbara Walters hosted a 2-hour special on ABC's 20/20 entitled, Heaven: Where Is It? How Do We Get There?  In it, she interviewed people from many different faith backgrounds on their beliefs in Heaven. She touched on the issue of Hell at the end of the program. According to the website TVByTheNumbers, it was the top rated network program for the evening for adults 18-49. It beat out NBC's Dateline, as well as reruns of CSI:NY on CBS, Bones on Fox, and Supernatural on CW. FULL POST

Posted 6/29/12 at 12:21 PM | George Sarris

Questioning the "Tradition of the Elders"

Are Evangelical Christians allowed to think for themselves and question the “tradition of the elders” in their pursuit of truth?

According to Christian Post Reporter Napp Nazworth’s article about theologian Peter Enns’ observation that Young Evangelicals Want to Rethink What it Means to Be Evangelical, the answer may actually be an emphatic “No!” – at least, not without being called a heretic . . . or a wolf . . . or a false teacher.

Many within the Evangelical movement today – and not just those who are young – have honest questions about what the Bible actually teaches on various issues. Many within the movement, however, are extremely reticent to engage in any significant form of dialogue on those issues. They feel they have received a tradition from the elders that should not be questioned. FULL POST

Posted 6/21/12 at 1:39 PM | George Sarris

Spending Time With "Sinners"

By George W. Sarris

When was the last time you had lunch with a real “sinner?”

I don’t mean someone who disagrees with you on a theological issue, or is a member of a different church or denomination, or smokes and drinks beer or wine (assuming you don’t), or has an attitude you don’t like. I mean someone whose lifestyle and value system are clearly in conflict with the standards of Scripture.

I ask that question because Jesus had meals with “sinners” quite often!

He was maligned by those who opposed Him as a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. 

When Matthew answered the call to follow Jesus, he held a great banquet for Jesus at his house – at which time many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.  

As He told the parable of the lost sheep, the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear him – to which the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” FULL POST

Posted 6/11/12 at 1:49 PM | George Sarris

No, John Piper . . . It’s NOT a Sin!

By George W. Sarris

“It's sin not to like the true doctrine of election. It's sin not to like what God likes.”

So states John Piper in a post dated June 4, and prominently displayed for over a week on the front page of ChristianPost.com

Dr. Piper’s logic is correct. It is ultimately a sin not to like what God in fact likes. However,his premise is wrong.

If he had said that it is sin not to like the true Biblical doctrine of election, I would not have been nearly as concerned. As I pointed out in a previous blog post, the Biblical teaching on God’s sovereign purpose in election is not referring to election to salvation. Rather, it is referring to God’s election to service of those He has chosen to be His instruments. FULL POST

Posted 6/8/12 at 11:45 AM | George Sarris

The Face of Hypocrisy

By George W. Sarris

I am not for abortion . . . I am for Women’s Rights! I want to see an end to sex discrimination and a raising up of the status of women! Abortions should be safe, legal, and rare. . . . Every abortion is a tragedy, but . . .  

How many times have we heard pro-choice politicians tell the American people that their desire to defend a “woman’s right to choose” is motivated by an even deeper desire to end sex discrimination and make this tragic procedure as infrequent as possible?

No matter what their rhetoric . . . it’s all a lie!

The defeat on May 31 of the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act in the House – a bill that would have made abortion for the specific purpose of sex-selection illegal – made that very clear. Those who voted against the bill were not interested in making abortion rare. And, they were certainly not seeking to end sex discrimination or defend women’s rights . . . at least, not the right for women to exist! FULL POST

Posted 5/17/12 at 2:17 PM | George Sarris

Jesus On Hell

By George W. Sarris

It has often been pointed out that Jesus spoke of Hell more often than any of the other New Testament writers. That claim is clearly true . . . and untrue at the same time.

The claim is based on the number of times Jesus used the word Gehenna – the term most commonly translated “Hell” in the modern versions. Gehenna is used twelve times in the New Testament, and eleven of those times it is used by Jesus Himself. The other use is in the book of James.

So, if we are looking at the number of times Jesus used the word that is translated “Hell” in English as compared to how many times others in the New Testament used that word, we would be correct in saying that Jesus spoke of Hell more often than anyone else in the New Testament. However, if we are looking at what Jesus meant when He used the word Gehenna and what His listeners understood by it, we would certainly have reason to question whether or not that observation is correct. FULL POST

Posted 5/10/12 at 2:35 PM | George Sarris

Tattoos, Mini-Skirts, Pink Hair and Drugs

By George W. Sarris

Is teen rebellion a necessary part of raising a family in today’s modern world?

That is a question every set of young parents asks as their children begin to grow up. I have five children, and I was often warned,

Just wait until your kids hit the teen years! It’s brutal!

I was informed on many occasions by well-meaning friends and acquaintances that teen rebellion is one of the realities of parenting in the late 20th and 21st centuries. It’s just one of those “stages” that teens have to go through – so I shouldn’t be surprised when it hits.

While each teen certainly has a free will and is ultimately responsible for his/her choices, is it true that teen rebellion is a natural part of parenting that must be expected and anticipated? Actually, no! I didn’t rebel against my parents when I grew up. Nor did my brother. Nor did my wife. And, interestingly, neither did any of my children. And, it wasn’t just because we were “lucky!” FULL POST

Posted 4/25/12 at 11:58 AM | George Sarris

The Question Every Christian Asks

Hell: Has It Always Been Forever?

By George W. Sarris

In Seven Days in Utopia – an excellent film based on David L. Cook’s best-selling book, Golf’s Sacred Journey – Robert Duvall’s character makes a very profound statement about his beliefs:

I respect tradition. But, I have a passion for the truth!

I wish I had thought up that line, because it expresses so well the reason why I initially looked into the issue of ultimate destinies.

Seek Truth Wherever It Leads

As a third year seminary student in the late 1970s, I was wrestling with the question every Christian asks at one time or another – How could a good God allow anyone to suffer consciously forever? 

A number of years earlier when I was in college, God's love had captured my heart and transformed my life. Prior to attending seminary, I served on the staff of a large campus missionary organization for four years. I wanted to tell others about this wonderful Being who had done such marvelous things in my life, but there was something deep inside of me that kept saying something was wrong with the prevailing teaching about Hell within the Christian community. It just didn’t seem consistent with what Scripture seemed to reveal about God's character. FULL POST

Posted 4/18/12 at 3:34 PM | George Sarris

Vote The Bums Out!

By George W. Sarris

Diogenes of Sinope was an ancient Greek philosopher who lived in a tub, and walked through the streets of Athens in the daytime carrying a lantern. When asked what he was doing, he replied,

I am looking for an honest man!

The more I read about the politicians of our day, the more I resonate with Diogenes! Are there any honest men (or women) in the political arena today?

Scandals Are No Longer News!

National and state government in this country has been rocked over and over by scandals to the point that they are no longer shocking. We are no longer surprised to learn of Senators or Representatives or Governors who have been involved in gross immorality, or who have lied directly to the public, or who have been recipients of kickbacks, or misused public funds, or voted for bills because of some perk they received, or who voted for bills they never read, or who . . . . the list just keeps going on and on.

Power corrupts. The longer people remain in power, the more power those people get. The more power those people get, the greater the temptation to misuse their power. The greater the temptation to misuse their power, the deeper the level of corruption that arises. FULL POST

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