Tag Archives: Hell

The Shack, Is Genesis History, and the False Dichotomies in Christian Films

God, The Bible and The Shack is a short pamphlet, designed to help readers of W. Paul Young’s The Shack navigate through some tough theological issues.

In the study of logic, a false dichotomy is when only two options are presented, either believe this or that, even though there might be yet a third option available. The fallacy of the false dichotomy is that it excludes other reasonable alternatives.

I really hope I am wrong. But sadly, it appears that several recent Christian films (and their associated books) are trying to exploit certain false dichotomies that are increasingly popular in the church today.

On one side, stands something like Del Tackett’s Is Genesis History?, blogged about several times here on Veracity (#1, #2, and #3). According to some reviewers, such as Alan Shlemon at Stand to Reason, though there are some very positive elements in the film, Shlemon thought that Is Genesis History? plays into the notion that the church is divided into two different groups: the sole defenders of the Bible, who unswervingly hold to a view of the earth as being young, around 6,000 years old, versus compromised Christians, who undermine the Bible by accepting anti-Christian, scientific evidence of an earth that is millions of years old. Of course, Del Tackett, in an admittedly kind, warm and unassuming way, urges Christians to pursue the first option, and shun the second.

For Del Tackett, the question of, “Is Genesis History?,” is of great interest, in terms of the age of the earth. But it is often a misleading question. “Is Genesis True?,” is a much more profound and disturbing reality to consider. Alan Shlemon rightly sees the fallacy here, regarding the fundamental argument from the movie as a false dichotomy.
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Jack Chick and the Real Halloween Scare

Jack Chick, fundamentalist cartoonist, died at age 92, on October 23, 2016. His most popular comic book tract was This Was Your Life.

Jack Chick, fundamentalist cartoonist, died at age 92, on October 23, 2016. His most popular comic book tract was This Was Your Life, viewable in full at www.chick.com, though I have included a few pages here. Jack Chick and the popular obsession with fear at Halloween have a lot in common .

I read my first “Chick tract” at a highway rest stop on Interstate 95 as a teenager. A middle-aged gentleman handed me this small comic book, spoke a few words, and before I could glance at what he gave me, the man quickly walked away. It was Jack Chick’s tract, This Was Your Life. I was already a follower of Christ, but what I read disturbed me, in more ways than one.

In one sense, Jack Chick was right. Before the scene shown above, a man who lived his life indifferent to the things of God, dies. Then this dead man was brought before the judgment seat, having his entire life exposed before the Lord, like on a theatre screen display. The hidden things were brought to light, demonstrating that his life, lived apart from Christ, had negative eternal consequences. He thought he could “get away with” sinful thoughts and actions in his life, thinking no one would notice, when in reality, nothing escapes the notice of God.

It is a terrifying thought. Continue reading


O’ Death

Ralph Stanley, bluegrass musician, died yesterday at 89. He was probably most known for singing, “O Death,” a traditional American folk song:

Won’t you spare me over til another year
Well what is this that I can’t see
With ice cold hands takin’ hold of me
Well I am death, none can excel
I’ll open the door to heaven or hell
Whoa, death someone would pray
Could you wait to call me another day
The children prayed, the preacher preached
Time and mercy is out of your reach
I’ll fix your feet til you cant walk
I’ll lock your jaw til you cant talk
I’ll close your eyes so you can’t see
This very hour, come and go with me
I’m death I come to take the soul
Leave the body and leave it cold
To draw up the flesh off of the frame
Dirt and worm both have a claim
O, Death
O, Death
Won’t you spare me over til another year
My mother came to my bed
Placed a cold towel upon my head
My head is warm my feet are cold
Death…

Stanley, interestingly, came from a Primitive Baptist Universalist background. This tiny Appalachian denomination is distinctive in that they do not believe in any type of parachurch ministry (the “primitive” part), they practice “believers’ baptism” by adults, and …. they deny the existence of an eternal hell.

But it is worth also considering the testimony of Scripture, for those who are in Christ Jesus: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55 ESV)


Four Views on Hell

Why are Christians so hesitant about talking about hell? Is it because we question its existence, or is it because we are not really sure what hell really is?

Why are Christians so hesitant about talking about hell? Is it because we are not really sure what hell even is? A new edition of a Zondervan Counterpoints book, Four Views on Hell, provides some help, looking at the Bible for answers.

It is rare when a Christian mega-church pastor winds up somehow on the cover of TIME magazine. But when a story about (now former) pastor Rob Bell was plastered on the front of TIME five years ago in 2011, people took notice.

As the mind behind the popular Nooma series of videos, Rob Bell had written a controversial book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.  In the book, Bell raises a lot of provocative questions about the classic Christian doctrine of hell, but he does not provide very firm answers. In his engaging and winsome way, Bell believes that when people experience rough times in this earthly life, such experiences can be truly hell. Who can argue with that? But as to whether or not hell exists in the next life, Bell is not so sure.

Uh-oh. There are yellow flags here.

As there should be.
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The Fear of Death

Bruton Parish Church courtyard... where my parents remains are buried.

Bruton Parish Church courtyard… where my parents remains are buried.

There is …a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance (from Ecclesiastes 1:1-8).

Over the past year, I have lost both of my parents to death. Less than a month ago, my dad died. It has been very interesting, watching the reactions of people who hear the news. Cordially, everyone is sorry for my loss. But it is astonishing how many folks will then gloss over the reality of death in their efforts to be nice to me.

For example, I am quite frank in saying that my father died. But most people I run into would rather talk euphemistically about someone’s passing instead. I am sure it is a desire to be polite and not offend a grieving person, but when someone passes, what does that really mean? Does that really tell the truth about death?

Here is a list of some sentiments that have been expressed to me over the past month:

“At least there is an end to your dad’s suffering. There is too much suffering in the world.”

“Your dad is in a better place. He is with your mother now.”

“Your dad is looking down upon you now… and smiling!”

All of these are quite bold statements, if you think about them. How do we know there is no suffering after death? How do we know that a loved-one is in a happier, better place, with others that are also loved… and smiling? Are any of these assertions true?

A curious one is that both my mom and dad are together now, implying that they are still married in the afterlife. But according to classic Bible teaching in Matthew 22:23-33, the bonds of matrimony are terminated upon death. Mormons, however, do believe that marriage goes on into eternity, but my parents were never Mormons, though we did have some Mormon missionaries knock on our door once back in 1978. I think they gave my mom some kind of pamphlet while my dad snuck out the back door to go cut the grass.

So, what then is the basis for the truthfulness of any of these assertions? Is scientific substantiation possible? Is it through some sort of revelation from a divine being, an intervention into human history? Or is it through the speculation offered by one’s own wishful thinking? How reliable is that? Could it be, that such sentimentality is a type of coping mechanism designed to take our minds off of what we fear the most?
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