Thursday, November 17, 2011
That's the name of Mark Galli's response to Rob Bell's Love Wins. He thinks its a better way to understand the Gospel.
It is a continuing conversation (love that word) about the relationship between mercy and justice. Galli is defending Augustinian theology, which is the ground on which all western theology rests. Hell has to exist because God will be just. The bible teaches Hell no matter how queasy it makes you feel about God and His character so get used to it. Doctrine trumps your feelings or questioning a God who is love who subjects the majority of all humanity to eternal conscious torment.
The book never seeks to answer the gentle musings of Bell about the actual scriptural teaching of "eternal conscious torment". Bell believes in right and wrong, and justice and mercy as does Galli, but he questions the justice of a one size fits all, throw away the key and prepare for pain for 15 trillion years, which you can never pay back. 15 trillion????where have I heard that word????
So do I. Augustine's prolific writing and foundational thought I believe, as do others, misses the nuances of the Greek word "aion" or "eon". The man did not know Greek. There is a word for eternal in the bible, a different word, and one applied to God alone, who has no beginning. An eon is a word demarking time, short or long duration, and no matter how you put the adjectives together they never become non-time or eternal.
This has enormous implications at to our understanding of Heaven and Hell. Galli says we should stay in the box Augustine created four hundred years after the death and resurrection of Christ, the various uses of the word eon, or age, could thus be termed "age enduring correction or punishment" and open the door for love winning and God winning through ultimate restoration at the end of the ages. Remember its a conversation, no stone throwing, we should be past old covenant stone throwing.