For me, this is one of the most mysterious issues in Christianity. Like many of the other posts on this blog, this one is not going to provide a precise answer, but rather some possibilities to consider.
Nevertheless, while I’m unclear as to the why and the how of it, I affirm that Jesus did indeed die for us. This is not a peripheral part of the Christian message. It does not at all appear to be something added on by the biblical writers or later Church leaders, nor is it something where Jesus has been misunderstood. Rather, it seems to be the abundantly clear teaching of the New Testament that Jesus gave up his life for our sake.
It is true that Jesus taught a lot about morality. But He didn’t present Himself as a moral innovator, but rather as one who illustrates (and calls us back to) timeless moral truths that we already knew inside our hearts. For example, Continue reading “Why did Jesus die for us?”
The whole idea of hell is a complicated one. It’s also very important, and I would encourage readers to work through the material in this post and read the scriptures to which I have added links.
There is first of all difficulty in defining what hell is. Conservative Protestants generally consider it to be a place, while Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican theologian typically define hell as a state of separation from God. The influential King James Version of the Bible translates three different biblical terms – Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus – as “hell”, masking shades of meaning in each term.
The basic premise, outlined by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, Continue reading “What kind of God would punish people in hell forever?”
I find that one’s answer to this important question predicts a lot of how the rest of one’s thinking takes shape.
One group says yes, the Bible is inerrant, right down to the last detail, including the literal six-day creation. This position is usually maintained either through exaggerated claims about archaeology and prophecy, or on the fear that compromise on that point leads down a slippery slope.
A second approach is to say Continue reading “Is the Bible completely without error?”
C.S. Lewis gives a good answer to essentially this question in God In The Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics.
I can’t say for certain which bits came into Christianity from earlier religions. An enormous amount did. I should find it hard to believe Christianity if that were not so. I couldn’t believe that nine hundred and ninety-nine religions were completely false and the remaining one true. In reality, Christianity is primarily the fulfillment of the Jewish religion, but also the fulfillment of what was vaguely hinted in all the religions at their best. What was vaguely seen in them all comes into focus in Christianity – just as God Himself comes into focus by becoming a Man.
One observation often made is that Continue reading “Didn’t Christianity just copy from earlier religions?”
Many of them probably did. Clearly, throughout all of the Christian centuries, we find many examples of individuals or groups thinking that the “end is near”. The clear teaching of the New Testament is that each Christian should be prepared for the end to come at any time.
There is one passage in the Gospels that might seem to suggest that Jesus predicted that the world would end within the lifetime of the first disciples. Some skeptics point out that the world is still here, and claim this as evidence that Jesus was a false prophet.
The verse in question is “truly I tell you, this generation will Continue reading “Did early Christians expect the end of the world in their own lifetime?”