Tag Archives: Christianity

Did Jesus Spend Saturday in Hell?

A few weeks ago, I listened to a sermon by Mark Driscoll on 1 Peter 3:18-20, one of the most difficult to understand passages in the Bible:

Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

A traditional understanding is that after he was crucified, Jesus descended into Hell.  This is codified in the Apostle’s Creed, which I remember being exposed to in my two semesters at a Lutheran school:

Jesus Christ … was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

John Piper has an interesting interpretation up that would make the narrative more consistent with the very clear passage of Jesus to the thief in Luke 23:43 (“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”):

With regard to 1 Peter 3:19, I take these words to mean that Christ, through the voice of Noah, went and preached to that generation, whose spirits are now “in prison,” that is, in hell. In other words, Peter does not say that Christ preached to them while they were in prison. He says he preached to them once, during the days of Noah, and now they are in prison.

I encourage you to read the whole post for a fuller picture of the evidence for this interpretation, as well as its consequences.

Warren waver on Prop 8 stuns leaders

This is what happens when you try to please two masters, the world and God:

Mr. Warren told CNN’s Larry King on Monday that he “never once even gave an endorsement” of the proposition, which said marriage in the state could only involve one man and one woman.

What Mr. Warren said he did do was send out a video to his 22,000-member church explaining his position the week before Proposition 8 went before state voters on Nov. 4.

“Now let me say this really clearly: We support Proposition 8,” he said on the video, “and if you believe what the Bible says about marriage, you need to support Proposition 8. I never support a candidate, but on moral issues, I come out very clear.”

Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said his denial is “absolutely baffling.”

“Whether he supports Proposition 8 now, after the fact, is overshadowed by the bizarre claim that he did not say what the evidence so clearly proves he said.”

Warren waver on Prop 8 stuns leaders – Washington Times.

A Conversation with Death on Good Friday

From John Piper’s Desiring God:

CHRISTIAN:

Hello, Death, my old enemy. My old slave-master. Have you come to talk to me again? To frighten me?

I am not the person you think I am. I am not the one you used to talk to. Something has happened. Let me ask you a question, Death.

Where is your sting?

DEATH, sneeringly:

My sting is your sin.

CHRISTIAN:

I know that, Death. But that’s not what I asked you. I asked, where is your sting? I know what it is. But tell me where it is.

Why are you fidgeting, Death? Why are you looking away? Why are you turning to go? Wait, Death, you have not answered my question. Where is your sting?

Where is, my sin?

What? You have no answer? But, Death, why do you have no answer? How will you terrify me, if you have no answer?

O Death, I will tell you the answer. Where is your sting? Where is my sin? It is hanging on that tree. God made Christ to be sin—my sin. When he died, the penalty of my sin was paid. The power of it was broken. I bear it no more.

Farewell, Death. You need not show up here again to frighten me. God will tell you when to come next time. And when you come, you will be his servant. For me, you will have no sting.

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer

Campus Crusade for Christ has put up an interesting and comprehensive guide to fasting.

If you’re thinking of starting, or just want to see what other’s have to say about it, I encourage you to check it out:

YOUR PERSONAL GUIDE TO FASTING AND PRAYER :: Campus Crusade for Christ International.

Fasting is one of the most neglected spiritual admonitions. In fact, it has been ignored for so long that it is difficult to find information on the “how-to’s” of this life-changing experience. When I first undertook an extended fast, I had a difficult time finding information on the nature of a Biblical fast, how to start, what to expect physically and spiritually, and how to terminate a fast.

These pages are designed to answer your practical questions about fasting and ease any concerns you might have. In this series, you will learn:

* Why you should fast
* How to fast safely
* How long and what type of fast is right for you
* How to prepare yourself spiritually and physically
* How to manage your schedule while fasting
* How to deal with the responses of friends and loved ones
* How to make your spiritual experience the best it can be
* How to maintain nutritional balance and health from beginning to end (including specific juice and broth recipes)
* What physical benefits to expect
* How to finish your fast and return to your normal schedule in a HEALTHY way

Christians on the Balance Beam – Francis Chan

A problem many Christians face.

Francis Chan is the pastor of Cornerstone Church, in my hometown of Simi Valley (near Los Angeles), where I used to attend the youth services.

Valediction from John Calvin to Martin Luther

John Calvin was younger than Martin Luther, and had a great respect for him.  Sometimes painted as rivals, or even enemies, the truth is more complex.  This, for example, is an amazing ending for a letter that Calvin wrote to Luther:

In a letter which Calvin wrote to Luther, but which he never received or read, for Luther’s friend Melachton, did not think it advisable to deliver it to him, Calvin asked Luther’s opinion about a certain matter which gave him much trouble. Beautiful and magnificent is the ending of this letter.

“For I would preferably converse with you personally, not only on this matter, but also on other matters. But that which is not granted to us on earth, will presently, I hope, be imparted to us in the Kingdom of God. Hail to you, most excellent man, servant of Christ, and honoured father. May God bless you always through his Spirit until the end, to the mutual well being of his church.”

God’s Charity?

I came across while looking for pictures for another of my sites:

Милостыня божья.
«Милостыня божья.» на Яндекс.Фотках

It’s labeled “God’s Charity.”

Such a beautiful building, and leaning against it, a man with serious problems.  It would be very easy to go off on a rant now about the priorities of the Orthodox Church.  It is a corrupt institution, with a lust for earthly power.  It deceives people into thinking that they’re saved if they pay some money and go through the motions.  It has failed abysmally to take advantage of the fall of the Soviet Union to bring people to Christ and combat the moral decay and nihilism that is rampant in that part of the world.  That is all true, but it is too simple an interpretation of the photograph.

As one commenter said:

Впечатление, что храм при всей своей красоте абсолютно равнодушен к судьбе этого человека…

(I get the impression that the church, with all it’s beauty, is absolutely indifferent to the fate of this person)

That feeling is made even stronger by the fact that the church is surrounded by a sturdy fence.  Could this picture describe our church, here in America, or our spirituality?  Beautiful on the outside, but walled off to those who need it?

The church in America does a much better job with this, but there is always room for reflection and self-criticism.  And this picture should touch the hearts of anyone who considers themselves a Christian.

Catholics are urged to give up texting for Lent

Catholics usually give up something specific for Lent, the 40-day period which marks the period that Jesus spent the in the desert, and which leads up to Easter. People will give up things like chocolate, alcohol, fast food, etc. This year, “Catholics are urged to give up texting for Lent:”

Roman Catholic bishops in Italy are urging the faithful to go on a high-tech fast for Lent, switching off modern appliances from cars to iPods and abstaining from surfing the Web or text messaging until Easter.

Dioceses and Catholic groups in Modena, southern Bari and other cities have called for a ban on text messaging every Friday in Lent, which began last week with Ash Wednesday. “It’s a small way to remember the importance of concrete and not virtual relationships,” the Modena diocese said in a statement. “It’s an instrument to remind us that our actions and lifestyles have consequences in distant countries.”

The Turin diocese is suggesting the faithful not watch television during Lent. In the northeastern city of Trento, the church has created a “new lifestyles” calendar with proposals for each week of Lent. Some ideas: Leave cars at home and hop on a bike or a bus; stop throwing chewing gum on the street and start recycling waste; enjoy the silence of a week without the Internet and iPods.

Italian laity and clergy have reacted cautiously to the proposals. Some say Lenten abstinence should be a personal matter, and others contend that people who need technology to work shouldn’t be asked to do without. Benedict praised social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace for forging friendships and understanding, but cautioned that online networking could isolate people from real social interaction.

I think it’s a great idea. Our lives today are interwoven with technology, but it’s useful every now and then to take a step back and realize that the technologies are a tool to facilitate, not replace, human interaction. Last summer, I didn’t use technology during a two-week mission trip to Moldova, and it was quite refreshing to take a break from the rat race. You also realize that keeping up with the 24-hour cycle isn’t as important as you thought.

Is anyone giving anything up for Lent? Anyone inspired now to give up some technology?

A Brief Theology of Sleep

Why do we need sleep?  For some people, it seems like a defect.  If God created us perfect, then why make us waste a third of our lives lying unconscious.  John Piper, in A Brief Theology of Sleep has an interesting answer:

Psalm 127:2 says, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved in his sleep.” According to this text sleep is a gift of love, and the gift is often spurned by anxious toil. Peaceful sleep is the opposite of anxiety. God does not want his children to be anxious, but to trust him. Therefore I conclude that God made sleep as a continual reminder that we should not be anxious but should rest in him.

Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God. “He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:4). But Israel will. For we are not God. Once a day God sends us to bed like patients with a sickness. The sickness is a chronic tendency to think we are in control and that our work is indispensable. To cure us of this disease God turns us into helpless sacks of sand once a day.

God wants to be trusted as the great worker who never tires and never sleeps. He is not nearly so impressed with our late nights and early mornings as he is with the peaceful trust that casts all anxieties on him and sleeps.

Read the whole article

Jhan Moskowitz on Jewish theology

Here’s a very interesting video that talks about some of the theological differences between Christianity and Judaism that have arisen over the last 2,000 years. Judaism, over that time, has changed considerably since the destruction of the temple in 70AD: