Blog Archives

sickness and healing (part 2): death as healing?

Note: I recommend you read Part 1 of this series to understand the context of these questions.

My last post was inspired, by a sermon I heard (and a number of subsequent conversations), to ask whether sickness could be caused by sin.

In this post I want to address another related question that I mentioned last time, namely whether dying and “going to be with Jesus” is a form of healing.

In the course of the sermon discussions described in the last post it was suggested by one participant that when a sick person does not receive healing and dies as a result of their sickness then this could be seen as a form of healing since the person goes to heaven to be with Jesus.

Someone then asked whether being cured by medicine could be seen “healing” in a biblical sense.

In response I asked my group a question – “Are we saying that miraculous healing is “healing”, and so is being cured by medicine, and also dying? If yes, does that mean that everything is healing? Even not being healed is healing. What isn’t healing?”

Personally I don’t think dying is a form of healing at all. To suggest so is, to me, a misunderstanding of the biblical view of healing and death. Allow me to explain. Read the rest of this entry

what is eternal life?

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 is possibly the most famous verse in the Bible. It is so often said that its promise is life everlasting for those who believe in Jesus.

Certainly in our modern vocabulary the word “eternal” means “forever” or “everlasting”. Eternal life is almost universally understood as everlasting existence, immortality or life “in heaven”.

(Type “eternal life” into Wikipedia or Google and you’ll see what I mean. It does, however, also yield the song “Eternal Life” by Jeff Buckley… sublime.)

But is eternal life (zōē aiōnion) really the same thing as “everlasting” life? Is that what is meant by the phrase in the Gospel of John? Read the rest of this entry

ruptured rapture: christian gnosticism alive and well

If you are reading this you have awoken on the 22nd of May to find you have not floated into the sky, or been “left behind”…

The recent flurry of attention given to belief in the rapture, owing primarily to American fundamentalist Harold Camper’s predictions of its occurrence, offers some interesting points of reflection for Christians today. (It didn’t happen, in case you were worried you had been left behind.)

I don’t just mean this in terms of the apparent foolishness of attempting to predict the “rapture”, or more broadly “the end of the world”, in light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:36:*

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

Nor do I mean this in terms of reflecting on the fact that the concept of the rapture is based on a misinterpretation of one verse in 1 Thessalonians 4, or that no Christian before the 18th century had even heard of it!

Instead I think that Christians would do well to reflect on the unbiblical thinking that forms the foundation of ideas like the rapture. Read the rest of this entry

even the bible is a vulnerable text

After watching an online video posted on my Facebook feed of a well-known pastor preaching about Heaven and Hell, I thought it appropriate to post a thought or two.

This particular pastor preached from Luke 16:19-31. During the sermon they made numerous references to the fact that they are “telling the truth” and that they are simply repeating the words of Jesus (which are apparently not in need of any form of interpretation, but rather are self-evidently comprehendible, even over the temporal distance of 2000 years).

The issue here of course is that no text, regardless of where or whom they are from (even God) can simply be considered self-evidently comprehendible.

I look to Paul Ricoeur for wisdom at this point. Read the rest of this entry

religious judgementalism: the rob bell episode

Rob Bell has made waves in the Twittersphere and other social networks in the last 24 hours or so.

This is not really because of anything Bell has done, but because blogger Justin Taylor has accused him of being a Universalist (basically, the view that all people will be reconciled to God), a perspective apparently outlined in Bell’s forthcoming book Love Wins: Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.

I am not interested at this point in discussing Bell or universalism; instead I simply want to voice my issue with those who have criticised him.

The most obvious problem arising is that Bell’s book is yet-to-be-released. That is to say, his critics have not yet read it! Read the rest of this entry

%d bloggers like this: