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Review: Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church

Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church
Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church by N.T. Wright

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the great Christian books of this era. Truly remarkable in scope and accessibility. You won’t think about eschatology the same again and maybe you’ll understand why it matters for the very first time.

View all my reviews

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Solid Doctrine

I was moved tonight to be thankful for sound doctrine. In the Church of the Nazarene we have a great gift called the Manual. One of the reasons I started this blog was to express publicly how much I value our tradition as stated in the Manual.
Recent books and sermons on hell and heaven are another opportunity to highlight what’s right about our doctrine. We are careful to let Scripture be our guide. So we believe salvation is for all who repent of their sins, confess Jesus as Lord, and faithfully follow him. We don’t believe in a limited atonement. Whosoever will may come to Jesus. But we also follow the Bible on judgment. Everlasting punishment awaits all who fail to repent and/or callously reject Jesus as Lord.
Rob Bell, for example, wants to question this idea based on the philosophical idea that this makes God mean. But we’re not God so it’s not our place to reject clear Scriptures because we’re uncomfortable with the results. Mark Driscoll, on the other hand, goes so far as to teach (along with John Piper and others) that one must agree with him on hell to avoid going there. The Bible has a lot to say about punishment for false teachers. But The New Testament is clear: it’s what we believe and obey concerning Jesus which determines our destiny. That he’s the Son of God, that he came in the flesh, that he died for the sins of the world, was raised and is coming again to judge us all. But there is room for some variety on some details about judgment, hell, and heaven, where Scripture is less specific. But it’s pretty safe to say that no one will be in hell because they interpreted the Scriptures differently, unless their belief keeps them from repenting, confessing faith in, and following Jesus.
Thankfully, the Nazarene church has hammered out (and continues to study and debate for greater accuracy) clear doctrines on all major issues. These are found in The Articles of Faith. But the church has also pared these down to an Agreed Statement of Belief, which reflects the most foundational Christian beliefs (such as the Apostles Creed, etc…) as the required faith profession for membership. These are the things Scripture is undeniably clear on in multiple places, being affirmed in every age of Christianity.
I encourage you to go to nazarene.org for more information.
Recently some of our views have come under attack from relative newcomers who are committed to Reformed Tradition ideas. (As are Bell, Driscoll, and Piper). We are part of the Wesleyan-Holiness Tradition, not reformed. As one professor at Olivet Nazarene University said, “Issues like emergent are not primarily our fight. They are more of a family fight in the reformed movement. As Wesleyans we aren’t hung up on these questions.” Discipleship and evangelism form our mission.
Rob Bell has been an interesting figure, because even though he’s reformed, he believes in free will. So sometimes Nazarenes have been intrigued by him, but none I know would say he represents our views. As I pointed out in my review of his book, his views are different than ours. Quite different. But not so different as to call him unChristian. I have no agenda but truth and love in reviewing his book or in any other comments/posts I make.
I’m thankful for sound, biblical doctrine. Nazarene doctrine. Because it’s good classical Christian doctrine. I want to teach and preach that good news until Jesus returns or calls me home.
If you don’t know Jesus or even about him, can I challenge you to read the New Testament and check out a church? Jesus can save you from your sins, help you change your world, and get you ready for heaven! Join us at NewHope Community Church of the Nazarene This Sunday 10:30am, we’ll actually search for Jesus in the Scriptures! Be part of it!

Ash Wednesday evening reflections…

“Remember, from dust you came, and to dust you shall return.”
Today the Lenten journey began. Lent is about considering our mortality and dependence on God who will one day judge the earth. It’s about numbering your days so you see the value of each moment. It’s about becoming less so God becomes greater in your life. It’s about following Jesus’ example of emptying yourself of all but love. It’s also about making room in your life for others. Don’t let the journey inward keep you from what Jesus called the will of the father. John 4 tells us Jesus at times went without food in order to share faith with people far from God. So as you draw nearer to God, remember how his heart beats for those far from him. Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in your life and mine!
Grace and Peace

The Poached Egg: Bono Interview: Grace Over Karma

The Poached Egg: Bono Interview: Grace Over Karma.

Check out this article.  The reference is from a book that’s been around a while, but it still surprises me when I read it.  Bono is prepared to give a reason for the hope that he has.  He puts up a flag and lets you know he really believes this.  He’s not ashamed of it.  He’s not going to cram it down your throat.  But he wants you to think about it.  A few “expletives”aside, it’s not bad at all. If you’re a person of faith, when was the last time you shared your faith with someone?

Question for believers and nonbelievers alike: How did Bono do, in your opinion?

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