Category : Eschatology

Kendall Harmon’s All Saints Day 2019 Sermon–Do we share God’s Vision for the Church (Revelation 7:9-17)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

(EJ) ‘Back to earth’: Edmonton church groups exploring growing interest of green burials

[John] Matthews is also chair of the north-side Christ Church Polar Lake Cemetery, one of only a few in Edmonton currently offering plots for the green practice. He said his church was approached about two years ago by a resident interested in having a green burial, or what Matthews calls a “traditional burial,” and so they decided to provide the option.

Four speakers took to the podium during the seminar at St. Stephen the Martyr/St. Faith Anglican Church on Alberta Avenue to explore some of the spiritual considerations and challenges with natural burials. It’s about opening the door for conversation and not being scared to talk about the inevitable, Matthews said.

“The whole idea is to get death out of the closet and to confront it directly,” he said. “The more you put it aside … that’s going to prolong the grieving process or impede it really to its proper completion.”

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ecology, Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

John Stott on Jesus being glorified IN his saints on the last great day, from 2 Thessalonians 2:10

That is to say, not only will the Lord Jesus be ‘revealed’ objectively in his own splendour (7), so that we see it, but his splendour will be revealed in us, his redeemed people, so that we will be transformed by it and will become vehicles by which it is displayed. The exact purport of this depends on how we understand the repeated preposition *en*, which NIV translates first *in his holy people* and secondly *among all* believers. *En* could also be translated ‘by’ or ‘through’. So how will the coming Lord Jesus be glorified in relation to his people? Not ‘among’ them, as if they will be the theatre or stadium in which he appears; nor ‘by’ them, as if they will be the spectators, the audience who watch and worship; nor ‘through’ or ‘by means of’ them, as if they will be mirrors which reflect his image and glory; but rather ‘in’ them, as if they will be a filament, which itself glows with light and heat when electric current passes through it.

The distinction between these models is important. A theatre is not changed by the play which is performed in it. An audience is not necessarily moved by the drama enacted before it. A mirror is certainly not affected by images it reflects. But a filament is changed. For when the current is switched on, it becomes incandescent. So when Jesus is revealed in his glory, he will be glorified in his people. We will not only see, but share, his glory. We will be more than a filament which glows temporarily, only to become dark and cold again when the current is switched off. We will be radically and permanently changed being transformed into his likeness. And in our transformation his glory will be seen in us, for we will glow for ever with the glory of Christ, as indeed he glowed with the glory of the Father (E.g. Jn.14:13).

Take the Transfiguration as an illustration. On that occasion Jesus was glorified in his physical body. His face shone like the sun, while his skin and clothing glistened and became as white as light. In other words, his body became a vehicle for his glory. So will it be with his spiritual body, the church. The body of Christ will be transfigured by the glory of Christ, not temporarily as at the Transfiguration, but eternally.

–John R W Stott, The Message of 1 and 2 Thessalonians (Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1994 Academic edition of the 1991 original), pp. 149-150, quoted in part by yours truly in the morning sermon for All Saints Day

Posted in Eschatology, Evangelicals, Theology: Scripture

Food for Thought on a Sunday–Jonathan Edwards on the Suffering of Christ in Gethsemane

The agony was caused by a vivid, bright, full, immediate view of the wrath of God. The Father, as it were, set the cup down before him…he now had a near view of that furnace into which he was about to be cast. He stood and viewed its raging flames and the glowing of its heat, that he might know where he was going and what he was about to suffer.

Christ was going to be cast into a dreadful furnace of wrath, and it was not proper that he should plunge himself into it blindfold, as not knowing how dreadful the furnace was. Therefore, that he might not do so, God first brought him and set him at the mouth of the furnace, that he might look in, and stand and view its fierce and raging flames, and might see where he was going, and might voluntarily enter into it and bear it for sinners, as knowing what it was. This view Christ had in his agony…Then he acted as knowing what he did; then his taking that cup, and bearing such dreadful sufferings, was properly his own act by an explicit choice; and so his love to sinners was the more wonderful, as also his obedience to God in it.

If just the taste and glimpse of these sufferings were enough to throw the eternal Son of God into shock, and to nearly kill him in the anticipation of them, what was the actual, full experience of those sufferings on the cross really like?

–From his remarkable sermon Christ’s Agony and quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon (my emphasis)

Posted in Christology, Church History, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

(EF) Mark Arnold–Some thoughts on disability, sin, God and ‘Heaven’

Jesus bore the scars of his crucifixion on his post-resurrection body. Interestingly, although he bore those marks, he was still able to amble along the road to Emmaus the same day as his resurrection; a seven-mile walk just three days after his body was hung on the cross… (Luke 24:13-35).

Is it possible that the evidence of disability is retained, but any associated negative consequence of disability and/or pain is removed? Is that what Revelation 24:4 refers to when it talks about “There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain”?

Maybe Heaven itself will be a far more accessible and inclusive place too, a place free of the ableism of our current Earth? A few days later Thomas was able to put his hand into the wound in Jesus side, “Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” See John 20:24-29, esp. v27.

Again, this passage suggests that the evidence of disability remains in the resurrected body, but perhaps not any negative consequences or pain.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Eschatology, Health & Medicine, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(PD) Things Worth Dying For: The Nature of a Life Worth Living

Family, friends, honor, and integrity: These are natural loves. Throughout history, men and women have been willing to die for these loves. As Christians, though, we claim to be animated—first and foremost—by a supernatural love: love for God as our Creator and Jesus Christ as his Son. St. Polycarp, for all his caution and prudence, eventually did choose martyrdom rather than repudiate his Christian faith.

The issue at hand is this: Are we really willing to do the same; and if so, how must we live in a way that proves it? These aren’t theoretical questions. They’re brutally real. Right now Christians in many countries around the world are facing the choice of Jesus Christ or death. Last year the German novelist Martin Mosebach published an account of the 21 migrant workers in Libya who were kidnapped by Muslim extremists and executed for their faith. Twenty were Coptic Christians from Egypt. One was another African who refused to separate himself from his brothers in the faith.

The murder of those 21 Christians is captured on video. It’s hard to watch—not just because the act is barbaric, but also because, in our hearts, we fear that, faced with the same choice, we might betray our faith in order to save our lives. Put frankly, the martyrs, both ancient and modern, frighten us as much as they inspire us. And maybe this reaction makes perfect sense. Maybe it’s a version of the biblical principle that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear of martyrdom is the beginning of an honest appraisal of our spiritual mediocrity.

So I think we should consider this fear for a moment, rather than repressing it, as we so often do.

The Christian men beheaded on the Libyan beach are not really so remote from us. The worry we naturally feel, that we might fail a similar test, is a concrete and urgent version of the anxiety we rightly feel when we think about coming before the judgment of God. If we’re honest about ourselves, we know that we’re likely to fail that test too. After all, we’re barely able to live up to the basic demands of the Ten Commandments. Many of us have trouble following even the minimal norms of a Catholic life: regular confession and Mass attendance, kindness to others, and a few minutes of daily prayer. If those very simple things are struggles, how can we possibly have the spiritual strength to face martyrdom? Or the judgment of a just God?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Catholic Herald) Heretic of the week: John Nelson Darby

Darby also originated a brand of eschatology call Dispensationalism, which holds that true Christians shall be raptured before the events leading up to the Second Coming and Last Judgment. He preached his Gospel throughout Britain, the United States, Canada, and even Australia and New Zealand.

While Darby’s views on ecclesiology gained few followers in America, his Dispensationalism has been a big hit among Evangelicals ever since, among other things injecting the whole idea of “the Rapture” into American pop culture and spawning the Left Behind series of novels and films. Alas, before he died the movement broke into two sections – one of which he chose and remained in until he died.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Eschatology

(Commonweal) An Interview with David Tracy–In Praise of Fragments

DT: Yes, I don’t think you can understand the New Testament, and therefore Christianity, without its strong apocalyptic tradition. And not just apocalyptic texts like Paul’s Epistle to the Thessalonians, Matthew 24, almost the whole of Mark, and especially the tremendum et fascinans power of the Book of Revelation. The whole Christian Bible ends with that plaintive cry, “Come, Lord Jesus.” Without its apocalyptic dimension, properly deliteralized of course, Christianity would settle down into a religion that has lost its sense of the not yet, and the existential sense that the Second Coming, like our own death, could happen at any time.

Read it all.

Posted in Eschatology, Theology

(TGC) David Bentley Hart’s Lonely, Last Stand for Christian Universalism

These passages suggest the need and appropriateness of evaluating eschatological teachings in terms of their practical effects. And it’s exceedingly hard to see how the biblical call to self-denial, godly living, and toilsome evangelism can flourish on the basis of a universalist theology. Who would need to work at being alert or prepared if final salvation for all were already known in advance? Earlier Christian universalists—including Origen himself—acknowledged the problem and suggested that universalism should be kept secret from the masses and disseminated among only a few mature believers. Hart doesn’t seem to admit there is any problem.

So even if universalism were biblically supported (as it is not), and even if sound theological or philosophical arguments made it believable (as they do not), then universalism could still not become the official, public teaching of the Christian church without undermining the church’s own moral, spiritual, and missional foundation. The one clear-cut historical case we have of a large-scale embrace of this doctrine—the Universalist Church, that was once the sixth-largest denomination in the United States—illustrates the point. This denomination declined in size and theologically devolved into a unitarian denial of Jesus’s divinity, and then merged with another declining religious body to become the UU—the Unitarian-Universalist Association, which eventually removed the word “God” from its doctrinal basis, so as not to offend the sincere agnostics who might want to belong. Those proposing universalist doctrine for the church today should be forewarned by this history. Imagine a farmer who seeks to rid his field of pests, and so sprays a chemical—reputedly a powerful and effective pesticide. Within weeks, the crops themselves are shriveling up. That’s universalism: in the name of updating and improving the church’s teaching, it kills the church itself along with its teaching.

Belief in universal salvation will, in all likelihood, remain in the future, as in the past, a private conviction nurtured among a deracinated intellectual elite, situated more on the fringes than in the center of the church’s life. The faithful en masse will not embrace this teaching. Jesus’s sheep know his voice, and a stranger’s voice they will not follow (John 10:5, 27). Universalism in the future, as in the past, will show itself as the self-negating, faith-undermining, church-neutering doctrine that it is. This theological species is heading toward extinction.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Eschatology

(LQ) Henry Freedland–Hell Breaks Loose: Searching for hope in a blazing world.

Around the turn of the eighth century, a sickly Anglo-Saxon monk known as Dryhthelm died in the early hours of a Northumbrian evening. Through the night his household mourned his passing. Then at dawn, as the sun returned, so did Dryhthelm, who sat up in bed with a start. All fled the undead man but his wife; she stayed, trembling in fright. “Do not fear,” he said. “I have been permitted to live among humankind once more,” and he told her what he had seen.

The journey in fleeting death had taken Dryhthelm down to a valley without end, one side of which was “terrifying with raging flames,” the other “equally intolerable owing to fierce hail and cold blasts of snow gusting and blowing away everything in sight.” Everywhere were “poor souls” who attempted to escape the intense heat by leaping into the cold and then, finding no respite, launched themselves back into the high flames to burn again. Surveying the “torture of this alternating misery,” Dryhthelm took the bilateral terror to be hell; he knew of its promised torment, its eternally unhappy agony. But his guide corrected the assumption: “Do not believe this, for this is not the hell you are thinking of.”

Dryhthelm was shaken—how could things be worse? Still farther he was led, to where the landscape grew gloomier, the covering sky even more eaten by darkness, where flames came spurting from a pit with a vile stench. He stood, “unsure what I should do or which way to turn,” unable to differentiate between the “wretched wailing” of souls and a “raucous laughter, as though some illiterate rabble was hurling insults at enemies they had captured.” Here it was at last: the infernal gloom, the precipice of damnation, the cries of suffering wretches, all the sorrowful punishments wielded by mindless, remorseless, contemptible hordes. Finally, the mouth of hell.

Dryhthelm’s story was recorded by his contemporary the Venerable Bede in the Ecclesiastical History of the English People. It is among the harrowing selections of the 2018 anthology The Penguin Book of Hell. Historian Scott G. Bruce, who collected the texts, gently proposes in his introduction that “the political calamities of the modern world have increased the currency of the concept of hell as a metaphor for torment and suffering.” From the “sulfurous and dark” mountain envisioned by the medieval Irish knight Tundale to the Nazi death camp Treblinka—about which the Russian writer Vasily Grossman commented that “not even Dante, in his hell, saw scenes like this”—the book traffics heavily in such horrid currency.

Read it all.

Posted in Eschatology, History, Poetry & Literature

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon at Saint Helen’s, Bishopsgate: Wrestling with the biblical doctrine of hell

Listen to it all. Please note there are audio and video options and it can be downloaded. Be forewarned–it is NOT light bedtime listening–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, Church of England (CoE), Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings

Yours truly speaking to the Renew Conference in Leeds Yesterday Afternoon

Posted in * By Kendall, Church of England (CoE), Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Photos/Photography, Theology

Billy Graham’s Address at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance in 2001

President and Mrs. Bush, I want to say a personal word on behalf of many people. Thank you, Mr. President, for calling this day of prayer and remembrance. We needed it at this time.

We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious, or political background may be. The Bible says that He’s the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles. No matter how hard we try, words simply cannot express the horror, the shock, and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tuesday morning. September eleven will go down in our history as a day to remember.

Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God. Today we say to those who masterminded this cruel plot, and to those who carried it out, that the spirit of this nation will not be defeated by their twisted and diabolical schemes. Someday, those responsible will be brought to justice, as President Bush and our Congress have so forcefully stated. But today we especially come together in this service to confess our need of God.

We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation, but today we need Him especially. We’re facing a new kind of enemy. We’re involved in a new kind of warfare. And we need the help of the Spirit of God. The Bible words are our hope: God is our refuge and strength; an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands these feelings that you may have. We’ve seen so much on our television, on our ”” heard on our radio, stories that bring tears to our eyes and make us all feel a sense of anger. But God can be trusted, even when life seems at its darkest.

But what are some of the lessons we can learn? First, we are reminded of the mystery and reality of evil. I’ve been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept by faith that God is sovereign, and He’s a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says that God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a mystery. In 1st Thessalonians 2:7 it talks about the mystery of iniquity. The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah said “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” Who can understand it?” He asked that question, ‘Who can understand it?’ And that’s one reason we each need God in our lives.

The lesson of this event is not only about the mystery of iniquity and evil, but secondly it’s a lesson about our need for each other. What an example New York and Washington have been to the world these past few days. None of us will ever forget the pictures of our courageous firefighters and police, many of whom have lost friends and colleagues; or the hundreds of people attending or standing patiently in line to donate blood. A tragedy like this could have torn our country apart. But instead it has united us, and we’ve become a family. So those perpetrators who took this on to tear us apart, it has worked the other way; it’s back lashed. It’s backfired. We are more united than ever before. I think this was exemplified in a very moving way when the members of our Congress stood shoulder to shoulder the other day and sang “God Bless America.”

Finally, difficult as it may be for us to see right now, this event can give a message of hope–hope for the present, and hope for the future. Yes, there is hope. There’s hope for the present, because I believe the stage has already been set for a new spirit in our nation. One of the things we desperately need is a spiritual renewal in this country. We need a spiritual revival in America. And God has told us in His word, time after time, that we are to repent of our sins and return to Him, and He will bless us in a new way. But there’s also hope for the future because of God’s promises. As a Christian, I hope not for just this life, but for heaven and the life to come. And many of those people who died this past week are in heaven right now. And they wouldn’t want to come back. It’s so glorious and so wonderful. And that’s the hope for all of us who put our faith in God. I pray that you will have this hope in your heart.

This event reminds us of the brevity and the uncertainty of life. We never know when we too will be called into eternity. I doubt if even one those people who got on those planes, or walked into the World Trade Center or the Pentagon last Tuesday morning thought it would be the last day of their lives. It didn’t occur to them. And that’s why each of us needs to face our own spiritual need and commit ourselves to God and His will now.

Here in this majestic National Cathedral we see all around us symbols of the cross. For the Christian–I’m speaking for the Christian now–the cross tells us that God understands our sin and our suffering. For He took upon himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, our sins and our suffering. And from the cross, God declares “I love you. I know the heart aches, and the sorrows, and the pains that you feel, but I love you.” The story does not end with the cross, for Easter points us beyond the tragedy of the cross to the empty tomb. It tells us that there is hope for eternal life, for Christ has conquered evil, and death, and hell. Yes, there’s hope.

I’ve become an old man now. And I’ve preached all over the world. And the older I get, the more I cling to that hope that I started with many years ago, and proclaimed it in many languages to many parts of the world. Several years ago at the National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington, Ambassador Andrew Young, who had just gone through the tragic death of his wife, closed his talk with a quote from the old hymn, “How Firm A Foundation.” We all watched in horror as planes crashed into the steel and glass of the World Trade Center. Those majestic towers, built on solid foundations, were examples of the prosperity and creativity of America. When damaged, those buildings eventually plummeted to the ground, imploding in upon themselves. Yet underneath the debris is a foundation that was not destroyed. Therein lies the truth of that old hymn that Andrew Young quoted: “How firm a foundation.”

Yes, our nation has been attacked. Buildings destroyed. Lives lost. But now we have a choice: Whether to implode and disintegrate emotionally and spiritually as a people, and a nation, or, whether we choose to become stronger through all of the struggle to rebuild on a solid foundation. And I believe that we’re in the process of starting to rebuild on that foundation. That foundation is our trust in God. That’s what this service is all about. And in that faith we have the strength to endure something as difficult and horrendous as what we’ve experienced this week.

This has been a terrible week with many tears. But also it’s been a week of great faith. Churches all across the country have called prayer meetings. And today is a day that they’re celebrating not only in this country, but in many parts of the world. And the words of that familiar hymn that Andrew Young quoted, it says, “Fear not, I am with thee. Oh be not dismayed for I am thy God and will give thee aid. I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand upon “thy righteous, omnipotent hand.”

My prayer today is that we will feel the loving arms of God wrapped around us and will know in our hearts that He will never forsake us as we trust in Him. We also know that God is going to give wisdom, and courage, and strength to the President, and those around him. And this is going to be a day that we will remember as a day of victory. May God bless you all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Evangelicals, History, Terrorism

Saturday Afternoon Food for Thought from CS Lewis

Posted in Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) 80 per cent decline in religious funerals as mourners opt for golf courses and zoos over churches

An all-black dress code, pallbearers marching in unison, and a steady stream of tears are not often associated with golf courses, zoos and Chinese takeaways.

Yet according to the most extensive ever report on UK funeral trends which, the religious funeral is dying a death.

Instead of services in crematoriums, churches and cemeteries, Britons are instead opting for increasingly quirky ways to mourn their loved ones.

The Co-op, the UK’s largest national funeral provider which conducts more than 100,000 every year, has today published a report revealing that since 2011 there has been a 80 per cent decline in religious funerals.

Eight-years-ago 67 per cent of people requested traditional religious services and just 12 per cent were non-religious. However by 2018, just 13 per cent wanted a religious funeral.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Secularism

Please pray for the 2019 ReNew Conference

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(SHNS) What shall we Make of how the Church is dealing with the Doctrine of Hell in the 21st Century?

Many modern people want eternal justice on their own terms. This desire may have little or nothing to do with God.

“You can feel this tension with someone like Epstein right now, because people really want justice, and even if they were able to get human justice, that wouldn’t be enough, because of the horrors of what this man appears to have done,” said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. His Oxford University doctoral studies focused on 20 centuries of doctrines about hell, and last year, he addressed the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem on modern beliefs about eternal damnation.

When faced with hellish acts by individuals and groups, modern believers and even unbelievers can’t help but cry out for some form of justice that transcends human courts, he noted. That creates a problem, since many people no longer “believe in a transcendent source of justice that determines what is right or wrong in this life. Their beliefs about eternal judgment are all personal and based on their own feelings. …

“You end up with a sense of injustice about the lack of ultimate justice, because the only justice that would provide what many people yearn for is some kind of transcendent, divine justice – which they would never accept.”

Read it all.

Posted in Eschatology

(JE) Jeffrey Walton–Lutheran Bishops and an Empty Hell?

A tip of the hat to Lutheran blogger Dan Skogen, who highlighted this exchange. The church historically teaches – and most Christians today would reiterate – that God loves everyone and seeks their best interest. But does that love mean that Hell is, as Egensteiner asserted, empty?

Even among many liberal mainline Protestant luminaries, the doctrine of Hell is taken seriously today more so than in the past two generations. In 2008, the liberal Christian Century hosted a symposium on Hell. As IRD’s Mark Tooley reported somewhat surprisingly, most of the respondents seemed to believe in it. This stands in stark contrast to early and mid-20th Century liberal Protestants who rejected the existence of Hell outright.

This old Protestant liberalism was embodied by Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong. Tooley notes that Spong gained celebrity in the 1980s writing books denying supernatural Christianity and insisting rationalism was the only way to “save” the faith for younger people. Meanwhile, his Episcopal Diocese of Newark lost nearly half its members under his watch, and the seminars he taught in retirement attracted only the elderly.

Rarely today do Tooley or I encounter liberal Protestants similar to Spong who are under 60 (Egensteiner turns 62 next month). “Modernist” views are now passé, and liberal Protestants under age 50 typically believe in an afterlife and sometimes even Hell.

But Hell isn’t just about the afterlife. As I reported last year on an Anglican workshop that addressed preaching on the subject, the Doctrine of Hell has consequences today for the living including Christology, evangelism, human dignity and our “tone in life”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, Eschatology, Lutheran, Sermons & Teachings

(MB) August Smith–The God Days of Summer

Just kidding. In fact, in this chapter our favorite Episcopal priest-turned writer [Robert Farrar Capon] argues the opposite: that an all-redeeming, perfectly loving God made known in Christ is indeed compatible both with harsh summers and their spiritual counterpart: hell. After drawing witty (and surprisingly believable) comparisons between the sweaty season and the lake of fire, he deftly explains why a robust theology of hell is indispensable in Christian doctrine. Check out this quasi-Lewisian explanation from the chapter “The Porch”:

the neat spirit of hell is a championing of the right so profound that it produces a permanent unwillingness to forgive, an eternal conviction that wrong should be prevented whenever possible and punished whenever not, but this it must never under any circumstances be absolved … That is the hell of hell. That’s why it’s presided over by the rightest angel who ever lived. That’s why it’s the least human place in the universe. And that’s why, though earth can sometimes indeed be heaven, it can never quite manage to be pure hell: there is always the chance that out of pure feeblemindedness if nothing else we might just drop the subject of being right.

We ask that God’s will may be done “as in heaven so on earth,” and we follow that by praying to be forgiven only as we forgive. The link we establish between earth and heaven, you see, is a human link and the virtue we attach most immediately to his will is a human virtue: mercy top to bottom, here as there; pardon all around, there as here. Heaven is not the home of the good but of the forgiven forgivers; hell contains only unpardoned unpardoners. Neither place, of course, is inhabited by anything but unpardonable types: it’s just that everybody in heaven, God himself included, has decided to die to the question of who’s wrong; whereas nobody in hell can even shut up about who’s right. Hell is where the finally, unrepentantly righteous and the finally, impenitently wicked have literally forever to enjoy their final, unendable war.

Read it all.

Posted in Eschatology

Saturday Food For Thought–JC Ryle on the Doctrine of Hell

I call on all who profess to believe the Bible, to be on their guard. I know that some do not believe there is any hell at all. They think it impossible there can be such a place. They call it inconsistent with the mercy of God. They say it is too awful an idea to be really true. The devil of course, rejoices in the views of such people. They help his kingdom mightily. They are preaching up his old favorite doctrine, “Ye shall not surely die.” I know furthermore, that some do not believe that hell is eternal. They tell us it is incredible that a compassionate God will punish men for ever. He will surely open the prison doors at last.

This also is a mighty help to the devil’s cause….

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Eschatology

John Piper–I Was Far Too Easily Pleased–the story of my discovery of Christian Hedonism

When I graduated from college in 1968, I had not yet discovered Christian Hedonism. The air was still thick with the tension between the pursuit of God’s glory on the one side and the pursuit of my happiness on the other. That was soon to change.

I walked into my first class at Fuller Seminary with my professor Daniel Fuller (son of the founder) in the fall of 1968 and heard things I had never heard before about the relationship of divine glory and human happiness. Dr. Fuller pointed me to Jonathan Edwards, Blaise Pascal, C.S. Lewis — and the Bible! Edwards and Pascal made the problem worse before it got better.

Edwards won my trust by exalting the centrality and ultimacy and supremacy and worth of the glory of God beyond all other reality. And he did so in such a thorough, passionate, and biblical way that there was no possibility he was about to smuggle in a man-centered theology.

His book The End for Which God Created the World is perhaps the most thorough and compelling demonstration that the glory of God is the ultimate goal of all things. What was so overpowering about this book was the avalanche of biblical passages used to show God’s passion for his glory.

This was new to me. I knew about my duty to live for the glory of God. But I had never heard that God lives for the glory of God. I had never heard that God’s command that I glorify him was an invitation to join him in his zeal for his own glory.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–How shall we understand the Ascension and what is its significance for us?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ascension, Christology, Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Retired General Roger Brady–Memorial Day: For What Shall We Live?

Most Americans will never serve in the military—actually less than one percent of our population do so. And even among those of us who do, very, very few of us are asked to give that last full measure of devotion. So what is the question for us on this day as we remember those Americans who died on our behalf? I believe that question is —for what shall we live?

Whether or not we wear the uniform of our country, we all have a service to offer, a service to those ideals that reflect God’s universal truths and that our American ancestors captured in the formation of this country. When Jesus left this earth to take his place at the right hand of the Father, he left us, his bride, the church, to carry on his work. So when evil strikes in the form of a school shooting or when nature unleashes its fury and devastates property and lives, when children suffer, when people are hungry or homeless and ask “Where is God?!” we must be there and have them see him in us.

We must bring his comfort and his healing to this world. When we live lives of service to those around us, we honor the God who saved us and we honor all those who gave that last full measure to secure for us all the things we enjoy in this nation.

Someday we will find ourselves at the end of our lives looking back, and we will ask ourselves what it was all for. At that moment, we will all want to recall a life of service to something larger than ourselves, to children who needed our teaching and our example of service, to people whom we gave a hand up in time of need, to friends and colleagues whom we comforted in times of sorrow, lives with whom we shared the many physical and spiritual blessings that have been bestowed on us. If we live that life of service, we will have fulfilled the challenge of the Savior when he said, “Whatever you did for one of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matt. 25:40).

So on Memorial Day, and every day, we need to ask ourselves, for what shall we live? How are we doing at fulfilling not just the ideals of our American forefathers but those universal values set in place by the one who made us in his image, who sent his only begotten son to secure our salvation, the one who “created us in him to do good works?”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, History, Military / Armed Forces, Theology

More NT Wright for Easter 2019–His Easter Sermon at St. Paul’s Hammersmith

The Rev’d Professor N.T Wright is an English New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian, and retired Anglican bishop. He writes about theology, Christian life, and the relationship of these two things and has written over seventy books. He is a guest speaker throughout Easter 2019.

Listen to it all (about 24 1/3 minutes).

Posted in Christology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Easter, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

NT Wright for Easter 2019–We have seen the future in the resurrection of Jesus and it is real

Posted in Easter, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–What is the Connection Between Easter and the Church (Revelation 7:9-17)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there. Listen carefully for another Henry Allen “Harry” Ironside (1876-1951) story which took place at Christ Church, Indianapolis.

Posted in * By Kendall, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Scripture

An Easter Conversation with Archbishop Foley Beach

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Easter, Eschatology, Theology

Kendall Harmon–The Compelling Verbs of Easter

Above all the gospel accounts of Easter compel our attention. “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” One version of this wonderful day begins with a voice of negation, a crucial question which many people never answer. Are we looking for love in all the wrong places? Are we clinging to earthly things and forgetting those things which do not pass away?

Then we hear “come and see.” To see with the full eyes of one’s heart is a rare thing indeed. So many times in life we look but do not see, do not perceive as God perceives. The power of the post-resurrection narratives is that each person is met on his or her terms. What wondrous love is that, as the Holy Spirit by his power opens our eyes.

The dynamic does not stop with the question and the call to see, however. If we really see who God is and his power to change lives and transform them into the likeness of his glory, we cannot keep it to ourselves.

Where I served my curacy in South Carolina, we had many Clemson football fans; they root for the Tigers whose color is orange. One day I visited a family devoted to Clemson and, I kid you not, even their toilet seat cover was orange. Bless them, they loved to tell the story of a particular University. One wonders whether an Easter people have a similar passion to share Jesus’ love for the world.

He is risen. Why? Come. See. Go. Tell. Alleluia.

–The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is the host of this blog

Posted in * By Kendall, Christology, Easter, Eschatology

One Way Out of the Cul de Sac – Bishop Mark Lawrence offers more Thoughts for Easter

It is easy for us to forget that that is where the first disciples were on Easter morning—in the cul de sac. They had no place to go. Peter and Andrew, James and John, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James and the other women. The enterprise was based on Jesus of Nazareth. This movement which they had given themselves to—this God thing—it was all dependent upon him. The healing of the sick, delivering people from dark drives and obsessions, loosening the grip of loss, the teaching about how God works in peoples’ lives, (not just religious practices), but having the ability to bring people into God’s presence, into an experience with the living God by his words and presence. When Jesus was around, God came to them; forgiveness flowed; broken lives were mended. All this seemed to happen around him. You can see the problem I suppose—Jesus was the franchise. There was no way to posture or pretend about these things. Without him it would be futile to carry on.

To further illustrate my point, remember the disciples didn’t have any of these. The Pharisees and the scribes had the Hebrew scriptures; the priests in the temple had the altar of sacrifice, the altar of incense, the candelabra, the shew bread, the robes, the Holy of Holies—all that the disciples had was Jesus. Frankly, if he had not been raised we would never have heard of him. And just to have heard of him is hardly enough anyway. Without Jesus they were clearly in the cul de sac of death, which Karl Barth once called “the hopeless cul de sac.” That’s what those who stumble over Jesus’ seemingly exclusive statement that he is “the way, the truth and the life” too often forget. The Easter message is quite clear here—there’s one way out of the cul de sac and Jesus pioneered it.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Easter, Eschatology, Theology: Scripture

“Secularization in contemporary Christianity”…”the quiet dropping of belief in a future life”

[One of the most striking examples] of secularization in contemporary Christianity is the quiet dropping of belief in a future life. Historically, this belief was the lifeblood of dynamic Christianity. Early Christians thought of themselves as “aliens and exiles on earth” and as persons whose true citizenship was in heaven. And throughout the Christian centuries, belief in a future life was at the heart of all living faith. Now however, this faith, though rarely denied, is equally rarely affirmed. I myself acquired two degrees in Christian theology and completed all the requirements for ordination to the Anglican ministry without receiving any instruction in this doctrine, or even being exposed to sermons about it.

–Paul Badham, “Some secular trends in the Church of England today”, in Religion, State, and Society in Modern Britain (Lampeter: Edward Mellen Press, 1989), p.26

Posted in Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture