Category: NEWS

Are Christians Becoming More Open to Hope for All?

Published / by HopeBeyondHell / 1 Comment on Are Christians Becoming More Open to Hope for All?

I believe we’re living in an exciting time in Church history. The topic of hell (or endless punishment) is more and more coming into focus. For so many Christians, throughout the ages, this topic has been a faith destroying concept (I know… I lived it), as well as fuel for atheism and unbelief.

A day is coming, perhaps sooner than later, when we, who believe Jesus is Lord and the defacto and de jure Savior of the world (as confirmed by Paul in 1Timothy 4:10), will be respected and accepted by Christians of all backgrounds.

Why? Because our brothers and sisters in Christ will finally see and admit that we have a broad Biblical basis for our conviction of hope—that we are true believers and followers of Jesus, no less that any other Christians.

In June 2014, I attended the first “Rethinking Hell” conference in Houston, Texas. I greatly appreciated the way in which Christians holding differing views about hell, interacted with one another on this controversial topic. It was marked by a spirit of respect and acceptance, and yes… love.

I believe that same spirit of unity (regarding human destiny and many other distinctions in theology) will, in the not too distant future, find its way into the larger body of Christ through the power of Christ.

I’m encouraged in this, by a conversation I had with my friend, George Sarris, who attended this year’s second “Rethinking Hell Conference” held at Fuller Theological Seminary, in Sacramento CA. Sadly, I was unable to attend do to another commitment. George, who was a “break out session” speaker at the conference, was happy to oversee the distribution of our book, “Hope Beyond Hell.” Thank you George!

George wrote an exciting report on the June 2015 conference.

Here is what he said…

“Historic? I’m not sure it’s too strong a word. I can’t think of anything quite like this!”

That’s how Dr. Jerry Walls described the second Rethinking Hell Conference that was held at the prestigious Fuller Theological Seminary June 18-20.

It brought together scholars, pastors and laypeople from the US, Canada and as far away as the UK to discuss an issue that has been the subject of debate and division during most of the history of the Christian Church:

What happens to sinners after we die?

Three very different views have existed from the early church to the present day – each represented by respected leaders . . . and each claiming the authority of Scripture for its beliefs.

The Traditional view states that the righteous will go to heaven, and the wicked will experience endless, conscious suffering in hell.

With Conditional Immortality, eternal life is conditioned on salvation, and only some will meet that condition. The saved go to heaven. The rest die, perhaps suffering for some time after death, until they finally cease to exist. This view is sometimes called Annihilation.

The third view says that hell is a place where the wicked will be punished, but that punishment has a remedial purpose. After a period of time, they will be restored to fellowship with God. This view is generally called Universalism or Universal Restoration [I (Gerry) prefer Christian Universalism as it infers that salvation is only through Jesus].

The conference was sponsored by the Conditionalists, with this year’s theme – “Conditional Immortality and the Challenge of Universal Salvation.” Five main speakers included recognized authorities supporting each of the three views.

Oliver Crisp, Professor of Systematic Theology at Fuller, presented the Traditional view of hell. “This is an in-house discussion,” he said. “We are not talking about how people are saved, but how many are saved.” The scope of salvation is wider than often thought, but the tradition handed down to us teaches that some will be in hell forever.

Jerry Walls, Professor of Philosophy and Scholar-in-Residence at Houston Baptist University, continued the Traditional view, stating that some will suffer forever in hell on the conviction that mankind has an inviolable free will.

“We cannot entirely eliminate the possibility that some will choose to harden themselves in sin for all eternity,” said Walls, author of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory: Rethinking the Things that Matter Most.

David Instone-Brewer, Senior Research Fellow in Rabbinics and the New Testament in Cambridge, UK, presented the Conditionalist view by examining Jewish literature dating from before, during and after the time of Christ. He said that in the Qumran community, punishments were followed by destruction.

Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Taylor University, Jim Spiegel presented the philosophical case for Conditionalism. He described six philosophical problems with the Traditional view and suggested that Universalism was more problematic from a Biblical perspective.

Spiegel said that if hell continues forever, evil continues forever. The annihilation of the wicked brings a permanent end to evil.

Describing himself as an Evangelical Universalist, Robin Parry, PhD in Old Testament from the University of Gloucestershire and editor for theological publications at Wipf & Stock Publishers, likened the creation/redemption story to a puzzle where the piece describing hell doesn’t quite fit in with a loving, all-powerful God. He described hell as a hospital where God annihilates evil, not evil-doers.

“God doesn’t create trash,” said Parry, author of The Evangelical Universalist, “and He doesn’t trash what He created.”

I had the privilege of speaking at one of 16 breakout sessions that offered attendees an opportunity to participate in smaller groups. The sessions representing one view were held simultaneously so people could hear arguments for all three.

Topics ranged from “The Biblical Tour of Hell” . . . to “An Orthodox/Catholic Eschatology: the Hopeful Inclusivism of Hans Urs von Balthasar and Metropolitan Kallistos Ware” . . . to “Is God Creation’s Biggest Loser?”

A gracious and humble spirit was evident with each of the main speakers, the breakout session speakers and with the participants. It was clearly felt by all who attended.

What was most amazing to me was the number of people – from speakers to conference organizers to participants – who admitted that they had been challenged by what was said to rethink their view of hell . . . which, after all, was what the conference was all about.

Several said they had been unaware that a prominent belief in the early Church was that God would ultimately restore all of creation.

A number mentioned that they had never heard a Biblical case for universal salvation.

Almost all agreed that a belief in the ultimate restoration of all was not outside the bounds of faith.

And several acknowledged that they were “hopeful” that it was true.

Traditionalist Jerry Walls ended the conference with these words, “[Christian] Universalism is the best story. It’s the only one where true, lasting bliss pervades. It’s the only one with a perfect ending.”

George Sarris

http://www.georgewsarris.com/

 

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Another Good Translation

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Another New Testament translation that I use frequently and have for around 15 years now is the Concordant Literal New Testament with Keyword Concordance. It is also a translation from a believer in ultimate reconciliation. It is not biased toward eternal punishment theology.

The Old Testament is also available in PDF at concordant.org You can also order it on Amazon.com.

The greatest feature of this particular translation is that it tries to match one specific English word for each separate Greek word. This helps us to recognize when a word is being used differently and thus alerts us to study it deeper when clarity is needed or desired. Instead of interpreting the meaning of words as a primary objective, it seeks to establish a pattern of “sound words” that guide us in our Bible reading as Paul seems to encourage us to do in 2 Timothy 1:13. It is most beneficial if used frequently as one gets used to its vocabulary.

As a result of its English key word per Greek key word association, there is naturally a corresponding weakness. In some cases the English word used is not the best match. That is to be expected given its design and purpose. As long as the reader understands this weakness, one can greatly benefit from its strength by proper use. I use it as a constant companion for quick reference to check on the Greek usage of a word. The built in Concordance is also very helpful. It makes a great companion to the Jonathan Mitchell Translation.

Neither of these are easy reading, but when you want accuracy, you cannot surpass them in my opinion. I would only add, that I refer to numerous translations because I believe they are all valuable and shed needed light. My favorite site for numerous translations for quick reference is BibleGateway.com. Another for looking up the Greek words is blueletterbible.org

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Important N.T. Translation

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Important N.T. Translation by Jonathan Mitchell
 
I am excited to share with you about a New Testament Translation that will truly bless you as you seek to understand the Scriptures.
 
It is called: The New Testament; God’s Message of Goodness, Ease and Well-being which brings God’s Gifts of His Spirit, His Life, His Grace, His Power, His Fairness, His Peace and His Love. Expanded; Amplified; Multiple Renderings.
 
He has also completed two commentaries on the New Testament and working on a third.
 
You can order it on Amazon or visit his website at:

http://www.jonathanmitchellnewtestament.com/
 
Here is the review on it I wrote on Amazon.com.
 
I thank God for Jonathan Mitchell and his great labor of love to the world. It is obvious that he is a man who loves God with all his heart and wants Him to be known for all that He is in His awesome character and wonder. As I have read and studied the Scriptures over many years, I have grown to understand it’s complexity and need for multiple translations. I frequently reference over twenty or thirty translations when I investigate various passages. I like to know what my options are. What is the truth in this or that case? What I appreciate the most about Jonathan Mitchell’s scholarship is that he understands that only the Holy Spirit can lead us into all the truth. He doesn’t try to take His place in his translation, but diligently provides the reader with the various possibilities of meaning that the original manuscripts present. It is up to the reader, the seeker of truth to wrestle with the text, to pray and seek God’s face to learn the truth. The apostle Paul exhorts us to study to show ourselves approved unto God rightly dividing the word of truth. I thank God for Jonathan Mitchell for giving us the tools we need to help us fulfill God’s command. I have been blessed for several years with Jonathan’s N.T. Translation and now very much appreciate his commentaries. All I can say is “Thank You” Jonathan for your great sacrifice of love to our Lord and to all seekers after the truth. May the Lord grant you especially long life and health that you can continue the great work you are doing.
 
I cannot recommend this translation enough. If you have been blessed by it please consider writing your own Amazon review sharing why you have appreciated it.
 
Please pray for Jonathan and his wife Lynda, for continued inspiration, strength and health as they labor so extensively to help us all understand God and His truth.
 
Gerry Beauchemin

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Nov Update on Denise

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Dear friends, Thank you all so much for your loving concern and prayers for my precious wife.  Denise is continuing to do well. She completed her 6 month treatment this week and it was 100% successful! Praise the Lord! She is off all drugs! But now it’s wait and see. Will her bone marrow keep producing blood elements on its own? Or will she regress back to where she was? Some people relapse quickly after the treatment stops and so they will monitor her blood weekly for a couple of months and then once a month after that. Thanks for your prayers!

We found a volunteer to help us with our website.  He is truly an answer to prayer. Thank you Jerry!  Yes He’s Jerry except with a “J” not “G”. We appreciate you!  

Gerry and Denise

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Update on Denise and I / Video (8.46min)

Published / by Gerry / Leave a Comment

Hi Friends,  Just a note to say my wife Denise continues to do well with her blood counts. Thank you so much for your prayers. I am spending lots of time studying and writing and believing God for a new book to join Hope Beyond Hell instead of a revision. I can’t say when it will be completed, I am seeking His direction and inspiration. Please keep us in your prayers in all this. Here is another great video by Peter Hiett and His team in Denver titled The Cutting Room Floor.  The video is under 9 min. http://vimeo.com/68535912  If this video blesses you please consider sending Peter a donation. Such quality productions are expensive. Here is his website;  http://www.tsdowntown.com  I pray it inspires you in our Blessed Hope!

 

 

 

 

 

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Update on Denise / Video News

Published / by Gerry / Leave a Comment

Dear friends,
Thank you for your prayers for my wife Denise, it is so appreciated. I thank God for the great progress she is making. See link for more:September 2013 Newletter

Flaming Toilet of Death
Peter Hiett whom I greatly appreciate, has produced a very powerful video of God’s fiery love. I hope you enjoy it as I have. He pastors The Sanctuary Downtown Denver. He videos his Sunday sermons which you may appreciate.  Please pray for him, his wife and ministry team. 

About Tentmaker Ministries (5:56 min) This is a library of great reference works. It was invaluable to me when I lived in Africa as a missionary and it continues to be so. Gary and Michelle have become dear friends. Please keep them in your prayers too.

How beautiful are the feel of those who preach the Gospel of Peace, who bring glad tidings of good things! Ro 10:15  

 

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July 4 Update on Denise

Published / by Gerry / 4 Comments on July 4 Update on Denise

[BACKGROUND: My wife Denise was diagnosed with a severe life threatening blood disorder (bone marrow failure) in March, 2013] 

GOOD NEWS! Denise’s blood cell counts have made remarkable improvements in the last several weeks and continues to improve daily. Her platelets (for blood coagulation) are now at 144 (considered in the normal range for her!) Her doctor says she is completely responsive to their treatment. They are calling her their “poster child” for the clinical trial treatment protocol. They have never seen results as remarkable as this in treating her disease. In the course of all this though, they found two cancerous skin lesions. They think her drugs may have increased this risk. So her doctors at NIH (National Institutes of Health) have taken it upon themselves to see what they can do to arrange for surgery and possibly finance it. What a blessing! Her type of cancer (basil cell) is very treatable with surgery. Hopefully this will take place soon. Denise is still staying with our friends near DC while I am in Texas. We greatly appreciate all your prayers. Thank You Lord!

What am I doing while all this is going on? Well, my daughter Renee and her family have come home for a few months to be with Denise, but they have seen very little of her since she went to NIH in MD. So we are tackling long over-due home improvement projects on our older mobile home. It all started with ripping out the old carpets because of possible mold which may have aggravated Denise’s condition. I can’t tell you details now as we want to surprise her when she comes home. More later! Thanks for all your emails, prayers, and even financial support. It is all so so appreciated!

I am still behind in my emails and message replies. Thanks for your continued patience. If your message is urgent, please call me.

Hope you have a great fourth.

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June 12 update on my wife

Published / by Gerry / 1 Comment on June 12 update on my wife

Good News!!! Thank you so much for your prayers for my wife Denise. Her bone marrow has begun to produce blood cells again! (Red cells to carry oxygen, white cells to fight infections and platelets for normal blood coagulation) All three are improving! Her doctors at NIH (National Institutes of Health) are thrilled calling Denise their star patient! They are even saying she may not need any more blood transfusions—her last was on Friday. Praise the Lord! Thank you for your prayers.

In case you didn’t know, Denise was diagnosed with bone marrow failure (severe aplastic anemia) in mid-March and is undergoing a clinical trial at NIH in Bethesda MD just outside Washington DC. She is staying with our friends Bob and Pat Hale. I returned home four weeks ago to be with my daughter Renee (who sadly had a miscarriage) and to teach a mission class at I.B.C.D. in OK (Institute of Biblical Community Development). Renee is now visiting with Denise in VA now while I’m here helping my son-in-law. We are working on home repairs so Denise can come back to a nicer and mold-free home.

Thanks also for your patience with me in replying to your emails and messages. I hope to spend some serious time catching up on my communications very soon.

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