Mish-Mash of Thoughts

Derek Ouellette —  March 31, 2011

Okay, so here’s what I’m thinking…

Bell’s a minor who stumbled into the majors.

In yesterday’s review I gave Love Wins 3 Stars because I aimed to transcend the debates and rate the book based on what I perceived to be Bell’s main point. If I were to review the book based on Bell’s arguments it’d get 1.5 (max!). In Love Wins Bell gets into some pretty heavy stuff and fails to argue his points accordingly. As a pastor we might let it slide because it’s obvious that Bell wrote with the parishioner in mind. But given the content and claims in the book, Bell drew the attention of a more scholarly audience and it was like Bell, the young minor, stumbled into the major league field and discovered he couldn’t really play ball as well as he thought. Still, for me anyways, I’d say to Bell in regards to his main point: “point taken”.

Post-mortem reconciliation what?

I only discovered the phrase “post-mortem reconciliation” this past month. Post-mortem reconciliation is completely foreign to me. It’s the speculation that at sometime in the future after someone has died, some might still become reconciled to God. It seems there are a whole myriad of ways this view is understood, and not all teach universalism. (Is the idea of “purgatory” post-mortem reconciliation? I never thought about it before.)

Open Theism is still a viable option.

I cannot subscribe to Open Theism as a system of theology, but after reading the Old Testament it is extremely difficult to maintain a classical view of either exhaustive foreknowledge or omni-determination without ignoring many biblical conundrums. I’m no longer confident in any system of theology, but I wish I were.

Total Depravity is what?

I’ve been questioning the idea of Total Depravity. First, what is it? I think Calvinist’s and Arminian’s answer that question differently to the point that most Calvinist’s would say that Arminian’s don’t hold to it at all. It all falls back to “define your terms”. Do I believe in Adam’s original sin? Of course. Do I believe that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God? Absolutely. In fact, I enthusiastically affirm every passage used to support Total Depravity even the, “don’t you know that you were dead in your trespasses and sins” passage. But again, define “dead”. Questioning the need to believe in Total Depravity is not heresy, the Eastern Orthodox Church out right rejects it as a Western Augustinian assumption imposed on the scriptures and none of the early Church Fathers believed in it.

What about Hell as an Exile motif?

Many people debate “Hell” in the context of proof-texts. Asking questions like, where is Hell in the Bible? How do we understand all of the words associated with Hell? What is the nature of Sheol and Hates and Lake of Fire and their relationship to one another? What is Tartarus? Gehenna? and so on. Will everyone be saved? But I want to step back and read the concept of Hell in terms of an “Exile” motif? If that’s what we do for “Heaven”, if that’s what we do for “Blessing”, if that’s what we do for “Life”, why not do the for “Hell”, for “Cursing” and for “Death”. I think the scriptures apply these motifs to the age to come just as they apply the positive motifs to the age to come. Death, in the biblical motif, is living in exile from the Presence of God. Look for an upcoming post.

The one I’m finishing, the one I’m beginning

I’m finishing up the book Freedom and Necessity: St. Augustine’s Teaching on Divine Power and Human Freedom by Gerald Bonner. Bonner is a world leading Augustinian scholar who is more familiar with the life and times of Augustine then most. It’s informative then to point out that he is also sympathetic towards Pelagius. The book I’m about to begin is the Young, Restless, Reformed by Collin Hansen. Hansen is a journalist (and Calvinist) who trances the “neo-reformed” or “new-Calvinist” movement. I bet most people are unaware of the influence the popular Passion Conferences are having in actively promoting neo-Calvinism.

Preaching, Praying and Dedicating

I’ll be performing a baby dedication in a few months and am excited about that. I’ll be preaching in a few weeks (looking for a subject!). We’ve begun to have a six-week event in our church called “CONNECT”. The format is simple: Great worship followed by separating into groups and meeting at a “station of the world” where each  group prayers for that part of the world. Then we have more great worship. Throughout the night people are encouraged to stick prayer requests on a large wooden cross. After the second worship session, everyone is encouraged to take one of the prayer requests off the cross, we form a circle and pray united for the requests. Then fellowship. We do this with at least one other small group and we are expecting two other small groups from two other churches to join us at the next CONNECT.

There’s a mish-mash of thoughts for ya…

Also, if you want to know what it’s like living in Windsor (where I was born and raised and still live), check out this funny video:

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • http://hiddenirony.wordpress.com James

    Hey Derek,

    I made the “conversion” over to Open Theism last year (although in general I’m just trying to not apply too specific of a framework to what i read in scripture.)

    I’m curious, what’s holding you back from it? I like you, found that the traditional views don’t account for how God is depicted in the Old Testament very well. I’m just curious what issues you still have with it, as it’s still something I’m freshly processing myself.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Thanks for asking James. Aside from the fact that I’m just not quite ready to abandon divine exhaustive foreknowledge, there are some things that I still struggle with in accepting Open Theism as a system.

      I wrote a post called 6 Misnomers About Open Theism and someone asked me how I reconcile God’s plan in Christ with an open view of the future. I answered him best I could, but I stumbled through and didn’t really convince myself. That was a sure sign for me that I am just not quite there. But it’s still on the table for me.

  • http://www.perpetualproverbs.com Pumice

    Don’t be afraid of short posts. This would have made seven great entries and allowed more flexible responses.

    Interesting in spite of that.

    Grace and Peace

  • http://vagantepriest.blogspot.com/ FrGregACCA

    Purgatory is not an example of “post-mortem reconciliation”. According to RC teaching, all those who are in purgatory have died justified, but are not completely purified of all sin and are therefore not ready to experience the direct, unmediated presence of God (although I would argue that any “fire” in such a place is in fact Divine Fire).

    The concept of post-mortem reconciliation, commonly held to be a POSSIBILITY in Eastern Christian circles, considers the following:

    First, we are clearly told of two judgments in Scripture, one for every person immediately following their death and then, another at the end of history. Now, if the result is the same for each person at the first and second judgment, if one cannot repent between death and the Last Day, why two judgments?

    The second consideration is the fact that we also know that “heaven” and “hades”, the current holding places of those who die, are not the end of the story. At the end of history, all will be resurrected and there will be “a new heaven and a new earth”. We also are told that some will be confined to “the lake of fire” along with death, satan, hades, etc.

    Further, we have learned, with Rome, to pray for the those who have passed on before us. However, we know nothing of purgatory per se (although, given that the concept is nothing other than that of the “mudroom of heaven” and knowing that those who stand in the presence of Christ advance in holiness for all eternity, more and more “partaking of the Divine Nature,” some of us do not reject concepts very similar to purgatory out of hand). Therefore, we consider that it is possible that those, departing this life without Christ, and finding themselves in “hades” may yet be able to repent prior to the Last Judgment.

    None of this, of course, would be an excuse to knowingly reject Christ and His Church in this life, any more than knowing that if one has a heart attack one can go the Emergency Room would be a good reason to avoid doing whatever is necessary to avoid having a heart attack in the first place (and I should know about that one). Our spiritual sicknesses and our wounds cry out for healing balm here and now.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Thanks for the clarification Greg.

  • http://hrugnir.wordpress.com Peter Berntsson

    I’m surprised that you’ve never heard of the concept of post-mortem reconciliation.

    If nothing, I guess I’ve always been curious what’s implicitly said in Matthew 12:32: “And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

    Does this mean some will be forgiven in the next age?
    I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t like neither Baby Universalism, nor Automatic Fetus/Unbaptized Baby Damnation…

    Tbh, Post-mortem Reconciliation is merely an aspect of Inclusivism. If we assume that a person who hasn’t met Jesus but responded to the Light he received and moved towards Truth during his life, I imagine some people might happily let Jesus take care of them after Death.