Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Annihilationism Gains Ground With Christians

Just as universalism is gaining ground in liberal circles, annihilationism is gaining ground in Christian conservative circles. J. I. Packer once said that Western evangelicals live in a post-Christian, human-centered, self-absorbed, feel-good, secular culture which reduces all religion to a private hobby. The modern passion to find dignity and worth in all religions presses upon them. Their imaginations have been contaminated with the world's disgust with people like Jonathan Edwards and his attempt to make vivid the thought that without Jesus Christ we are but sinners in the hands of an angry God.

Clark Pinnock, who is a professor at McMaster's Divinity School said this:

I consider the concept of hell an outrageous doctrine. It's a bad doctrine which needs to be changed. How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness whose ways include inflicting everlasting torture upon His creatures, however sinful they may have been? Surely a God who would do such a thing is more nearly like Satan than like God, at least by any ordinary moral standards and by the Gospel itself. Surely the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is no fiend. Torturing people without end is not what our God does. Everlasting torment is intolerable from a moral point of view because it makes God into a blood-thirsty monster who maintains an everlasting Auschwitz for victims whom He does not even allow the dignity to die.
In response, theologian Millard Eareckson said "If one is going to describe sending persons to endless punishment as cruelty and vindictiveness and a God who would do so as more nearly like Satan than God and a blood-thirsty monster who maintains an everlasting Auschwitz, he had better be very certain he is correct, for if he is wrong he is guilty of blasphemy. A wiser course of action would be restraint in one's statements just in case they might be wrong."

Annihilationism is gaining ground as we embrace a kinder, gentler theology perfectly suited to a feel-good generation. Hell's imagery is more common today in comic pages than in church pulpits. Preachers prefer to dwell on more uplifting themes. Hell has all but disappeared and no one seems to have noticed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Should Christians be tolerant?

A couple of thoughts about tolerance... because today tolerance has been redefined to mean that all views are equally valid and all lifestyles are equally appropriate. As such, the notion that we communicate here day in and day out on the Bible Answer Man broadcast that Jesus is the only way is being vilified as the epitome of intolerance. Rather than capitulating to culture, we as Christians have to be equipped, prepared to expose the flaws of today's tolerance and simultaneously exemplify the meaning of what I would call true tolerance.

The first point I'd like to make is "all views are equally valid" sounds like a tolerant statement. In reality, it's a contradiction in terms. If, indeed, all views were equally valid, then the Christian view must be valid. But here's the problem: the Christian view holds that not all views are equally valid. Thus the redefinition of tolerance in our culture is a self-stultifying or self-refuting proposition.

Not only so, we do not tolerate people with whom we agree - we tolerate people with whom we disagree. If all views were equally valid there'd be no need for tolerance. Not only so, but today's redefinition of tolerance leaves little room for objective moral arguments or judgments. A modern terrorist could be deemed as virtuous as a Mother Teresa with no enduring reference point. Societal norms are quickly being reduced to mere matters of preference. The moral basis for resolving international disputes and condemning evil practices like genocide or oppression of women is being seriously compromised.

In light of its philosophically fatal features, Christians must reject today's tolerance and revive true tolerance. True tolerance entails that despite differences we treat every single person that we encounter with dignity and respect as people who are created in the image of God. True tolerance does not preclude proclaiming the truth, but it does mandate that when we proclaim the truth we do it with gentleness and with respect. In a world that's increasingly intolerant of Christianity Christians must exemplify tolerance without sacrificing truth on the altar of today's redefinition of tolerance. Indeed, tolerance when it comes to personal relationships - as I've said so many times on the broadcast - tolerance when it comes to personal relationships is a virtue, but tolerance when it comes to truth is a travesty.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rebuilt Temple vs. The Dome Of The Rock

The destruction of the temple brought an end to the age of sacrifice for Jews in AD 70, but for Christians the age of the temple, like the age of the Law in the land, has already come to an end with the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And yet, despite the fact that Jesus forever dispensed with the need for temple priests and sacrifice some two thousand years ago, Christian Zionists are bent on stoking the embers of Armageddon by scheming the destruction of yet another great Christian doctrine, and doing it by scheming the construction of another temple on the very spot where the Dome of the Rock now stands.

Tim LaHaye who, of course, is the author or co-author of the best-selling Left Behind series, goes so far as to call Mount Moriah, site of the ancient Jewish temple, "the most coveted ground in the entire world." As he puts it, "The deep significance of the 1967 Six Day War is seen in the prospect that at long last Israel can finally rebuild its temple," and that, according to LaHaye, is "not just a national yearning. It is a prophetic requirement of the Word of God."

LaHaye goes on to highlight the major obstacle. In his words, "This obstacle is the fact that the Muslims' multi-million dollar Dome of the Rock is located on the spot where the temple should be." He makes light of fellow dispensationalists who suggest that the Jewish temple could co-exist with the Muslim mosque. He says "Some have tried to suggest that perhaps this location is not the only place in Jerusalem that the temple could be built, and thus the Muslim mosque and the Jewish temple could co-exist. But" says LaHaye, "no careful Bible student would accept that kind of reasoning. There is no substitute on the face of the earth for that particular spot" says LaHaye. "There is no other single factor so likely to unite the Arabs in starting a holy war as the destruction of the Dome of the Rock."

Well, in light of the incarnation, this Zionist suggestion that the modern land of Palestine along with its capital Jerusalem, is to be reserved exclusively for a single ethnicity or that the temple must be rebuilt and its sacrificial system reinstituted, borders on blasphemy. While the modern state of Israel does have a definitive, in my point of view, a definitive right to exist, to suggest that native Palestinians - many, by the way, who are brothers and sisters in Christ - should be forcibly removed from the land is not only unbiblical, but it's unethical. By standing on the steps of the Capitol and protesting a two-state solution in the Middle East, Christian Zionists are creating an actual roadblock on the pathway to peace. Just as it's a grievous sin to turn a blind eye to the evil of anti-Semitism, so it is a grievous sin to turn a blind eye to a theology that divides people on the basis of race rather than uniting them on the basis of righteousness and justice and equity.

As we highlight in our brand new novel, Fuse of Armageddon, to presumptively appeal to the words of Moses, "I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse," which we hear over and over again from evangelical pastors and parishioners, and then use it as a pretext for unconditionally supporting a secular state that prohibits the advance of the Gospel while simultaneously disregarding the plight of the Palestinians, is to promote a theology that's not only decidedly unbiblical, but demonstratively dangerous.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Nowhere were the far-reaching consequences of such cosmogenic mythology more evident than in the pseudo-science of eugenics.[1] Eugenics hypothesized that the gene pool was being corrupted by the less fit genes of inferior people. As Michael Crichton has pointed out, the theory of eugenics postulated that “the best human beings were not breeding as rapidly as the inferior ones—the foreigners, immigrants, Jews, degenerates, the unfit, and the ‘feeble-minded’…The plan was to identify individuals who were feeble-minded—Jews were agreed to be largely feeble minded, but so were many foreigners, as well as blacks—and stop them from breeding by isolation in institutions or by sterilization.”[2]

The logical progression from evolution to eugenics was hardly a surprise. What is breathtaking, however, is the vast rapidity with which this baseless theory was embraced by the cultural elite. Crichton notes that its supporters ranged from President Theodore Roosevelt to Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. Eugenics research was funded through philanthropies such as the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations and carried out at prestigious universities such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

Legislation to address the “problem” posed by eugenics was passed in blue states ranging from New York to California. Eugenics was even backed by the National Academy of Sciences and the American Medical Association. Those who resisted eugenics were considered backward and ignorant. Conversely, German scientists who gassed the “feeble-minded” were considered forward thinking and progressive and were rewarded with grants from such institutions as the Rockefeller Foundation right up to the onset of World War II.

It wasn’t until the ghastly reality of eugenics reached full bloom in the genocidal mania of German death camps that it quietly vanished into the night. Indeed, after World War II few institutions or individuals would even own up to their fastidious belief in eugenics. Nor did the cultural elite ever acknowledge the obvious connection between eugenics and evolution.

Eugenics has faded into the shadowy recesses of history. The tragic consequences of the evolutionary dogma that birthed it, however, are yet with us today.
[1] My source for the following brief overview of the history of eugenics is Michael Crichton, “Why Politicized Science is Dangerous,” Appendix 1 from his novel State of Fear (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004), 575-80.
[2] Crichton, State of Fear, 576.