Tag Archives: Nicene Creed

On David Bentley Hart’s Tradition and Apocalypse: An Overview of the Dispute

When two theological heavyweights clash with one another, the ensuing dialogue can be fireworks. But one can learn a lot about the state of the church from such disputes.

The immensely erudite and (apparently recently) idiosyncratic Eastern Orthodox David Bentley Hart published an extended essay, Tradition and Apocalypse: An Essay on the Future of Christian Belief (Listen to this summary in Hart’s own words). Hart has been one of the greatest theological voices undermining the pretentiousness of the New Atheist movement. In exposing the fault lines of thinkers like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, Hart’s Atheist Delusions has been regarded as one of the finest polemical works against early 21st century atheism.

Alas, Hart’s star has since fallen after his That All Shall Be Saved, a bold and dogmatically absolutist defense of a Christian universalism, which argues that while there is still a future hell and divine judgment, that experience of hell is ultimately purgative and redeeming, such that none are ultimately lost in the very end.

Like what former megachurch pastor and now California surfer and podcaster Rob Bell strongly hinted at, and what the author of the evangelical blockbuster novel, The Shack, William Paul Young finally came out and admitted, the brilliant and exceedingly well-read David Bentley Hart has whole-heartedly endorsed a theological position that has historically been condemned by the vast majority of Christians. Hart does not care. Anyone who disagrees with him about universalism is effectively morally challenged, in his view, and he is not afraid to unload condescension on his critics.

That was just a few years ago. Now that this previous storm has passed, he has yet again triggered even more controversy.

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Constantine the Great?

Constantine the Great, founder of "Christendom."

Constantine the Great, founder of “Christendom.”

Constantine awoke from his dream. Christ had appeared to him bearing the sign of a bent over cross. Earlier, Constantine had seen the same cross in a vision, with the inscription, “In this sign conquer”. Could this be the sign of victory he had been waiting for?

So the story goes…. it was the year 312, and this young Roman general was approaching the most pivotal battle in his life. Maxentius, a challenger to the imperial throne, had amassed an army to defeat Constantine. Constantine forged an alliance with another general, Licinius. But was this going to be enough to defeat Maxentius? Perhaps this sign from one of the gods was what he needed. Constantine ordered his troops to paint the sign of the cross on their shields. From there, Constantine won the Battle of Milvian Bridge, and the history of the world, along with the Christian faith, was forever changed.

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