Rethinking Heaven: is it such a surprise?

 

Rethinking Heaven: Time Magazine cover for April 16, 2012

Rethinking Heaven: Time Magazine cover for April 16, 2012

 

Time Magazine’s easter issue April 16, 2012 had the headline “Rethinking Heaven,” promoting a feature story by award-winning author Jon Meacham, titled “Heaven Can’t Wait: Why rethinking the hereafter could make the world a better place.”

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2111227,00.html

In the article, Meacham presents two views in contrast.  One, what he describes as the traditional or ‘blue sky’ view, is the concept that disembodied spirits live in an otherworldly realm.  The other, described as a more modern and contemporary view, is the teaching that heaven is exclusively God’s dwelling place, to which early Christians never expected to go when they died.  Apparently, Meacham says the second view holds more appeal to youth, as well as to people interested in social responsibility and environmental stewardship.

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Questions for Christians: Human Nature?

Do you believe that some part of you will never die… that inside you is a divine spark, or an eternal essence, trapped in your body and waiting to be set free at death?  Do you believe you have an indestructible soul or spirit that will continue to exist forever, carrying your personality and memories with you throughout eternity?

IF we claim to be Christians,
HOW can we believe and accept these views?

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Why did Jesus say “I Am”? Examining lies and truths about John 8:58 (Part 5)

In my last post, we delved into a subtle grammatical thing known as declension, which basically means changing a word to express differences in number, gender, tense, or other things.  The point was to show that in John 8:58, Jesus used the words “I am” in the same way we do, to discuss the present tense, not the past tense.  We also looked at other cases where the words ‘ego eimi’ were used in the Bible by people other than Jesus, but in the exact same way (i.e. with the exact same declension) as Jesus used them.  Those other people were not claiming to have existed before they were born, and there’s no reason to think Jesus was trying to say that either.

Here’s another example.

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Questions for Christians: The Bible’s Inspiration?

Do you believe that the Bible is not 100% infallible… that perhaps it contains some errors or inaccuracies, or that parts of it contain folklore, or that some of its instruction is no longer relevant, or that the Old Testament has been nullified?

IF we claim to be Christians,
HOW can we believe accept these views?

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Why did Jesus say “I Am”? Examining lies and truths about John 8:58 (Part 4)

“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”
(John 8:58)

In my last post, I wrapped up a discussion about one of two common mistakes people make concerning this verse.  The first mistake is the idea that Jesus was somehow claiming divinity by speaking the divine memorial name.  It’s not true.  We compared the two key verses – one in Exodus 3 and another in John 8 – using both the English text we have and the original languages of the Hebrew Old Testament, the Greek New Testament, and the Septuagint.  In reality, it seems the verses show instead that God said He would manifest Himself as He sees fit; He did that through Jesus, and Jesus acknowledged his role as part of the purpose of God.  Jesus was the result of the word made flesh, but he wasn’t the originator of the divine plan himself.

Now we move on to the second mistake: the thought that Jesus’ words here in John prove he existed prior to his birth.  Again, the trick is to properly understand the original language and look at other places in the Bible where the same kind of expression is used.

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It’s a boy! …and I’m back.

You may have noticed: I’ve been away from this blog for a while. March, April, and May were extremely busy and disorganized months, and consequently, this blog (and you, my readers) suffered for it.  I apologize for being away so long.

However, it was all for a very good reason, and I have no shame in sharing the exciting news.  My wife and I are happy to announce the birth of our first child, a bouncing baby boy!

Baby boy sleeping in a Pepsi crate

Being an attentive husband and a new father has taken quite a lot of my time and energy, and it has been an absolute thrill.  It did mean that I had to step away from this very valuable work for a short time to do that very valuable work instead.

If the Father wills, and only in His good grace, I now hope to try finding a balance between the two responsibilities and returning to this blog again slowly.  Please bear with me as I get back into the swing of things… again.  I have plans to continue the “Why did Jesus say I am” series soon, God willing, and then move on to some other thoughts I’ve been stockpiling for a while.

If you have any topics you’d like to suggest for future blog posts, please use the comments section below to recommend something for me.

I’ve been told that the birth of a baby is the closest thing to proof of a miracle that we may get to see in this lifetime.  I think it’s true.

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.”
(Psalm 127:3 NASB)

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Why did Jesus say “I Am”? Examining lies and truths about John 8:58 (Part 3)

In my last post, I introduced you to the Septuagint, an ancient translation of the Hebrew scriptures into the Greek language.  It’s the “bible” that Jesus and the apostles most likely used, and it’s quoted heavily in the New Testament.  It gives a great Greek-to-Greek comparison of texts, and when we looked at Exodus 3:14 and John 8:58, we discovered God was saying one thing about himself with one set of words, and Jesus was saying another thing about himself with a different set of words.  There was also a grammar lesson in there that helped to strengthen the point a little.

So what was God really saying in Exodus 3:14?

Interestingly, the Hebrew text does not identify God the same way the Greek does.  It seems the Septuagint’s version of Exodus 3:14 is not so much a translation of the Hebrew ‘Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh,’ as a philosophical interpretation of it.  The 70 Jewish scholars treated the phrase as if it were an ontological statement, a statement about the nature of God’s existence, and so they used ‘The Being’ as the memorial name.

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