Thursday, August 15, 2013

An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens: In Which the Religious State of the Different Nations of the World, the Success of Former Undertakings, and the Practicability of Further Undertakings, Are Considered by William Carey

This short work (although the title is insanely long... why didn't he just call it "Some Thoughts on Missions"?) was an insightful work about the need and importance of global evangelism in the Christian church. Carey emphasizes that the need to preach the gospel to all nations is a command a Christ and that believers are bound to this responsibility to take the gospel into the world. Cary uses Scriptural examples from the apostolic ministry passages in Acts and leads through an overview of early church history and mission work, up to post-Constantine times when "popery"(Roman Catholicism) introduced propagation taking place by force of arms, a strictly non-Scriptural practice, where, as Carey observes, “the confessors of Christianity needed conversion as much as the people they ministered to”. Carey then gives an overview of the reformation of the church, starting in 1369 with Wycliffe teaching Biblical Christianity, and how his teachings eventually spread through reformers like Huss, Jerome and eventually through Luther, Calvin, etc, in which the church returned to the authority of Scripture and Biblical orthodoxy. In the following centuries persecution Roman persecution followed, and many sought religious freedom in the new colonies, which eventually leads the overview of history up to Carey's own time frame (late 18th century).

Carey also addresses some of the objections and complaints to global missions, including the barriers such as distance, language difficulties, concerns of safety within other nations, etc. He remarks on all of these with sound responses, and while admitting that missions can mean a sacrifice of affluence and splendor for that of hard work miserable accommodations, potential punishment and imprisonment, etc. he identifies that for many it is primarily a love of ease that stands as an inconvenience to ministry work, and although difficult conditions may be a part of missions, the obligation of believers is to share the gospel message with the world. Rightly referred to as the "father of modern missions", Carey's biography is a fascinating one, and there are few better to address the topic of missions.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Two Views of Hell

My recent Amazon review of "Two Views of Hell::

"Two Views of Hell" is a fascinating dialog of two theologians arguing from two different perspectives of the nature and duration of hell punishment. Robert Peterson argues from the "traditionalist" view, that hell as taught in Scripture is that of a conscience, eternal punishment, whereas Edward Fudge argues for what is called the "annihilation" view, which is the view that the sinner in hell encounters a final destruction. I was curious to read this title as, until now all I've really known about annihilation is from certain fringe voices like theologian John Stott (as well as certain cults), but never really in mainstream evangelical Christianity. Fudge does a considerably good job of arguing for annihilation from the strength of Scripture, and Peterson offers equally good counter-arguments to Fudge's position. Both men make strong appeals to Scripture, and church tradition when relevant, and I found both sides of the argument to be compelling. Historically I've enjoyed a number of "different viewpoints"-type of theology books in the arguments/counter-arguments format, and this particular work on the topic of hell does a fascinating job of exploring the different views while being ground in Scripture and not sentimentalism or anything like that. Both men agree that there is a specific doctrine of hell as taught in Scripture, but the eternal nature of it can be open to debate. This is worth checking out.