On the Eternal Punishment Scripture Speaks Of

There have always been some in church history who affirmed universalism, the view that all of humanity will ultimately be saved. Origen believed even the devil would finally be reconciled. More recently, David Bentley Hart has offered an apology for universalism in his recent book That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation. Hart’s book is polemical, for which I fault him not in the least. The topic is such that it is…

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The Levitical Diet: What is the meaning for Christians today?

One of the challenges for Christians today in reading the Hebrew Bible is to discern what is applicable to us, and what is not. Indeed, when I posted the question of the meaning of chapter Leviticus 11 on social media, (the chapter which details the clean and unclean animals) I received a variety of responses. These ranged from “We need to observe these distinctions and not eat what God says not to eat.” Others suggested…

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A Moral Chronology of the Book of Judges

The book of Judges is a book that some common Sunday school material is taken from. Samson and his feats of strength are popular. Or, Gideon and his defeat of the Midianites, after God graciously gave him confidence through the incident with the fleece. And, perhaps every 8-year-old boy’s favorite “Now Eglon was a very fat man.”(3:17) But there are many parts of the book that get sanitized or left out. But the book, strange…

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Does Dispensationalism lead to “Christian Nationalism”?

In the wake of recent events in the United States, several have suggested that dispensational theology is at the root of an embrace of Christian nationalism. Few offer any substantive evidence beyond the charge, however. I want to offer three reasons I think this claim is inaccurate. 1) A misunderstanding of the distinctives of dispensationalism. 2) A failure to see that in church history, there has been far more symbiosis between covenant theology and seeing…

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How to Practice Theological Criticism Responsibly

Suggestions for combatants At the remove of many centuries after the apostolic era, we have not just competing voices stating what is true and false, we have whole choruses, antiphonally arrayed. The Reformation is, by some accounts, one of the most significant historical events for the Western world. It is not difficult to see how that is the case. Out of the Reformation came a surge of theologizing; believers who sifted and weighed the evidence…

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A Wrathless Atonement and the Biblical Record

Theories of atonement are several. Sometimes they overlap, i.e., there is certainly victory in the penal substitutionary death of Christ. But various atonement theories are opposed to one another and irreconcilable. Whether they are irreconcilable with one another is of less concern than whether Scripture supports them. One also has to be careful to note that quite often, people hold to elements from more than one theory, to parts of a theory but not the…

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Why Christians Don’t Observe the Torah

Questions about how Christians relate to the Law are a theological expanse that seems only to keep growing. In interacting with other Christians, there are some shared assumptions, but when speaking with Jews, these assumptions don’t necessarily work. When answering questions from Jewish interlocutors, I can only speak about the New Testament perspective on the law. I admit that part of this is due to my own ignorance about the fullness of the Jewish tradition…

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John Owen’s Arguments Are Not Irrefutable

The Oxford divine relies too much on a “logic of inevitability.” The extent of the atonement has a been a topic of study for me for years. On and off I have read various defenses of the definite atonement position, as well as those for unlimited atonement. While the 2013 publication of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her may challenge this, for a very long time many people pointed to John Owen’s Death of…

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Can “World” mean “Elect” In John’s Theology?

Examining the Context of John 3:16 Of the several places in Scripture where Jesus is said to die for the sins of the world, John’s writings offer the most occurrences. Those who defend definite atonement have a challenge in explaining the meaning of this as something other than all sinners. The claim of the definite atonement position is that Jesus did not die for the sins of all, but only for those who will ultimately…

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Is a “Purchase of Faith” Taught in the New Testament?

Is faith our response to the gospel, or a substance given?  A hallmark of definite atonement is the view that what God requires of people to be saved, he has provided to them. That is, that the faith which brings us into a right relationship with God has been purchased for us at Calvary. The atonement includes the purchase of faith, but only for the elect. How sure is the exegetical ground for this teaching?…

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