“I am thoroughly convinced that God will let everyone into heaven who, in his considered opinion, can stand it. But standing it may prove to be a more difficult matter than those who take their view of heaven from popular movies or popular preaching may think. The fires in heaven may be hotter than those in the other place.”

Dallas Willard, from The Divine Conspiracy

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80 Comments(+Add)

1   Rick Frueh    
April 30th, 2011 at 6:40 pm

He’s “convinced”. And what evidence is there that convinces him?

The inerrancy of musings.

2   Rick Frueh    
April 30th, 2011 at 6:47 pm

And omly those who Can “stand” heaven? Man dribbles from the mouth and people buy it based soley upon either the literary prowess of said person or the degree of recognition of the same said person.

If I were to say “I am convinced” without any Scriptural evidence it would be dismissed out of hand. But if I was a published author, or have a masters of divinity, or a teacher in a seminary, my words would have much more weight.

The essence of so called truth requires precious little, if any, Scriptural support. A quote will do nicely.

3   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
April 30th, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Actually, the book that this quote comes from is 400 pages long, and Willard talks about Scripture on nearly every page. The book is really a call for Christians to take Christ’s call for us to be his disciples seriously. Being a disciple means that Christ wants to change us from the inside out. So the idea that Christ would let someone into heaven who never had any interest in following Him could actually not be doing that person any favors.

4   Rick Frueh    
April 30th, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Let me know when you come up with SCRIPTURE that indicates the “fire” in heaven is hotter than the fire in hell. 37 years and counting and I have yet to see that.

BTW – Anyone can reprint Scripture. I have Pope Benedict’s book and it is full of Scripture.

5   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
April 30th, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Let me know when you come up with SCRIPTURE that indicates the “fire” in heaven is hotter than the fire in hell. 37 years and counting and I have yet to see that.

Well, there are multiple times throughout Scripture when God is referred to as a “consuming fire”. The literal temperature of both places has little to do with the actual point. The point is that God is turning us into people who can and want to enjoy His presence.

6   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
April 30th, 2011 at 9:50 pm

BTW – Anyone can reprint Scripture.

A perfect example is Rick Frueh. Ever see his blog? :-)

7   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 12:43 am

“I am thoroughly convinced that God will let everyone into heaven who, in his considered opinion, can stand it.

Oh boy. Quaker theology at its finest. Complete and utter heresy without a shred of spiritual support. Is there any wind of doctrine flying around out there that some of you **won’t** embrace?

He who has the Son has the Life. He who does not have the Son does not have the Life. Heaven is secondary. Where ever God is, is heaven. Heaven is icing on the eternal cake. God “lets those into heaven” who are born again by the Spirit of Christ, end of discussion (biblical discussion at least).

8   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 12:46 am

The point is that God is turning us into people who can and want to enjoy His presence.

We are given the mind of Christ at conversion (regeneration). We are translated at conversion. We are born from above at conversion. We are made fit for heaven by grace. We will be glorified (made fit for heaven) by an act of grace with no contribution on our part.

9   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 12:48 am

So the idea that Christ would let someone into heaven who never had any interest in following Him could actually not be doing that person any favors.

But Phil, don’t you know we get a second chance to follow Christ after death where He who was resistible in this life magically becomes irrestible in the next?

10   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 12:59 am

You know I can begrudgingly respect a systematic theology that is at odds with mine, but it has to be internally consistant. What I am seeing is a piecemeal embracing of bits here and bits there with no internal consistency. I get dizzy from the knee jerk defense of anything that attacks “traditional” Western Christianity. You know I would dare say that Rob Bell, et al is a sinner just like John McArthur, et al and would posit that his works are no more righteous or acceptable than the other.

The emergents act like they are the only ones who even consider works of charity. Well tell that to traditionalists like Jim Cymbala in New York or even my S. Baptist church right here in Houston or the hundreds and hundreds of Christian para-church charities started by and run by the seemingly so despised traditionalists.

I’m sorry. This defense of that inane statement of Willard’s just hit a nerve.

11   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 1:01 am

He’s “convinced”. And what evidence is there that convinces him?

His inner light Rick, His inner light.

12   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 1:18 am

But Phil, don’t you know we get a second chance to follow Christ after death where He who was resistible in this life magically becomes irrestible in the next?

Aside from Chad, I don’t know of anyone who believes this.

13   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 1:19 am

The emergents act like they are the only ones who even consider works of charity.

I think you forgot that acts of charity don’t matter at all, unless you provide the Roman Road as part of the charitable act…

14   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 1:31 am

Oh boy. Quaker theology at its finest. Complete and utter heresy without a shred of spiritual support.

No more heresy than the “turn or burn” theology you and Rick espouse, and with just as much “spiritual support”…

I’m sorry. This defense of that inane statement of Willard’s just hit a nerve.

Actually, Willard’s statement is not inane at all, but is really just a restatement of the Eastern Orthodox view of the afterlife.

The Scriptures they reference include God being an “all consuming fire”, God having to cover Moses’ face when He walked by (so that Moses could only see where He had been, lest he be destroyed), the multiple stories of the fire from God’s presence consuming the sacrifices of the people in the Torah, the consuming fire of the Lord spoken of by the prophets (like Ezekiel, Amos and Malachi):

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.

Or Paul:

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

So no, your arrogant “end of discussion” quip pretty much ignores the entirety of Scripture – from beginning to end.

15   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 1:33 am

His inner light Rick, His inner light.

Whatever.

From the Psalmist:

May you blow them away like smoke— as wax melts before the fire, may the wicked perish before God.

Gee, I guess that David was just a emergent idiot heretic Quaker, making it up as he went along.

Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages.

Too bad he didn’t have a Baptist to set him straight and to mock his view of God.

Or Isaiah:

The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?”

Too bad he didn’t have someone with “37 years of experience” who was too ignorant of Scripture to know what God had told him…

16   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 1:47 am

Let me know when you come up with SCRIPTURE that indicates the “fire” in heaven is hotter than the fire in hell.

Let’s see…

(From above) The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?”

I’ll give you a hint on this one – these are called “rhetorical questions”, where the writer assumes the reader understands the answers to be “no”. And the “fire” referenced here isn’t hell (which is never mentioned in the OT), but is the spirit/breath of God. Poor stupid Isaiah didn’t have Rick Frueh’s 37 years of experience to set him straight.

Heaven:
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

And the LORD said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Hell:
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

Seems to me that the spirits in the underworld prison survived and were witnessed to by Christ (after death, even!!! Some emergent must have made that up, rented a time machine, and gone back and inserted it into Scripture), yet Moses was told that nobody could look upon the face of the Lord and survive.

17   Rick Frueh    
May 1st, 2011 at 3:54 am

Ah yes, the Chris Lyons we have come to expect. He is incapable of discussion without demeaning sarcasm that is directed at people. No where did I mention Dallas Willard or Phil Miller or anyone. I asked for Scripture and providing what you thought was Scriptural proof would have sufficed.

But at least CL is consistent and continues to manifest the arrogance he suggests resides in others. We appreciate the hospitable atmosphere you provide, and that libertarian thing you claim is true, a prickly libertarian who loves a good sharing of ideads complete with personal mocking.

It is so…um…Christian. The hiatis has already worn off.

18   Brendt    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
May 1st, 2011 at 8:13 am

“We appreciate the hospitable atmosphere you provide”

Yeah, that Chris L, he’s the sarcastic one.

19   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
May 1st, 2011 at 9:23 am

It’s just funny to see Willard grouped into the “Emergents”. His actual theology leans more toward Calvinism than anything else. He’s not Eastern Orthodox or Quaker. His point throughout the book (and really all of his books) is that Jesus wants disciples, not just converts. Apparently, the church has arrived at a place where that is a scandalous statement.

As far as the idea that our character is transformed instantly upon salvation or death, where is the Biblical support for that? If that’s the case all of Apostle Paul’s admonitions to his churches to invest their energy into becoming the people God wants them to be are worthless.

It’s true that entrance into the Kingdom is a gift of pure grace – Willard doesn’t deny that. Choosing to submit ourselves to the discipline of the Holy Spirit, though, is something that is an act of will.

20   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 10:31 am

I asked for Scripture and providing what you thought was Scriptural proof would have sufficed.

Re-read #’s 1 and 2 and most of John’s rather sarcastic replies. Your entire first comment was basically a condescending diatribe about quoting contemporary authors that was little more than an ad homenim dodging of the quote, itself. Since it seemed your (and John’s even more so) comments were all about how there is no Scriptural support for Willard’s comment, it seemed appropriate to toss it back with a little more force, since those who were demanding Scripture with a confident assumption of it’s absence were demonstrating the very ignorance they were deriding. (Kind of like Jesus poking fun, asking the Pharisees if they hadn’t read the Scriptures, when he knew they were proud they had it memorized.)

I don’t mind disagreeing w/ different theological perspectives, but starting out w/ the heresy card isn’t helpful, and tends to send me straight to Defcon 1.

21   Rick Frueh    
May 1st, 2011 at 11:02 am

So it is. I admit to sarcasm as well. But I do not admit to this:

“Too bad he didn’t have someone with “37 years of experience” who was too ignorant of Scripture to know what God had told him…”

But I guess it is appropriate to others as an addition to Scriptural interpretation. It makes for great agape bonding.

Restoration/emergent/ODM/Calvinistic/Arminian flesh all the same. I am “convinced” that the deepest and most Christlike lives belong to those who do not blog or comment on blogs.

22   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 11:53 am

You have my apologies for the overly hyperbolic sarcasm…

I am sorry,Rick.

23   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
May 1st, 2011 at 12:59 pm

You know I can begrudgingly respect a systematic theology that is at odds with mine, but it has to be internally consistant. What I am seeing is a piecemeal embracing of bits here and bits there with no internal consistency. I get dizzy from the knee jerk defense of anything that attacks “traditional” Western Christianity. You know I would dare say that Rob Bell, et al is a sinner just like John McArthur, et al and would posit that his works are no more righteous or acceptable than the other.

I don’t really claim to adhere to any systematic theology, per se. There are parts of different systematic theologies that are helpful, but there are many that are just attempts to squeeze the Scriptural narrative into nice little box.

I think walking with God is inherently messy, dangerous, and downright disconcerting. Whenever I feel I have a handle on something, He does something that totally surprises me. We are so intent on trying to tame the Lion that we forget He’s not tame. He’s good, but not tame or tameable.

24   Brendt Waters    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
May 1st, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Phil (#19): It’s just funny to see Willard grouped into the “Emergents”.

Aw, c’mon, Phil. You know better than that — “emergents” is just code for “people I don’t like”. ;-)

25   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 4:46 pm

“I am thoroughly convinced that God will let everyone into heaven who, in his considered opinion, can stand it.

The arugument of which is hotter, hell or heaven has nothing to do with my charge of heresy. The sentence quoted above is what I was referring to. There is not a cintilla of the gospel message of grace and faith in that statement. That is flat out works righetousness. So all your quotes on God’s consuming fire, Chris, while actually right on, are totally wasted because I’m with you on that one. Go figure.

But this again, shows that many times the argument by many on this site show no consistency. If Rick or I had brought out these scriptures we would have been soundly condemned by many that we would dare infer that God, as a consuming fire, is to be feared / reverenced.

26   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 4:47 pm

#24 – Willard and Foster preceed the Emergent movement Brendt but they are often quoted favorably by Emergents. I’m not getting your point.

27   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 4:49 pm

“emergents” is just code for “people I don’t like”.

Sort of like the use of “Baptists” Brendt?

28   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
May 1st, 2011 at 4:53 pm

There is not a cintilla of the gospel message of grace and faith in that statement

Oh please…

This is one sentence of a 400 page book! It’s very clear that Willard doesn’t believe in anything like works salvation in the book. What he is saying, however, is that our character as Christians is not something optional or extra. We are called to be disciples and that means living our lives by certain ethical standards. If we claim Jesus is our master and our teacher, than our lives should reflect that.

The question of who’s in and who’s out really is tangential to the point of the whole book. Of course, modern evangelicalism has boiled down the essence of the Church’s mission to this question, thus we feel free to actually ignore most of what Jesus actually taught while He was on earth.

29   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I think walking with God is inherently messy, dangerous, and downright disconcerting. Whenever I feel I have a handle on something, He does something that totally surprises me.

We funny, Phil, I thought God was a refuge, and a rock, a shelter, faithful and true, the same yesterday, today and forever. Someone I can run to and totally depend on. I wasn’t aware I should be on edge everytime I approached Him. Someone whose yoke was easy, not dangerous. Someone who I can walk with, a guardian through the storms of life. Somone I can find rest with. Someone who cleans up my messes, not creates new ones for me.

30   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Phil, we were given one quote. We were not made privy to the gist of these 400 pages and that quote is a gospel trainwreck. I am reacting to that quote (which is all I had before me) which is horrendous distortion of the Gospel, in my opionion. So if you are going to blame anyone, blame yourself for choosing to print such a poor representatation of Willard’s theology.

31   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 5:10 pm
“I am thoroughly convinced that God will let everyone into heaven who, in his considered opinion, can stand it.

The arugument of which is hotter, hell or heaven has nothing to do with my charge of heresy. The sentence quoted above is what I was referring to. There is not a cintilla of the gospel message of grace and faith in that statement.

Perhaps your problem is one of artistic comprehension and creative writing. What Willard wrote is little different that the passages I quoted – only those who can exist in the presence of the father are those who would not be destroyed in the process. It is my belief (and Willard’s, mind you) that it is Christ and his sacrifice which make it possible anyone could exist in His presence. The problem Willard and Bell (and others) have is that they don’t ape the common Christianese constructs we use (our own subtle form of gnosticism) to describe such things. As for the accusation of “works righteousness”, it is more than a little specious when trying to pin such a charge on a single quoted paragraph.

But this again, shows that many times the argument by many on this site show no consistency.

Perhaps the “lack of consistency” is that we tend to defend other Christians whose views may differ from our own (example: Eastern Orthodox, Quaker, Mennonite, SBC (Rick Warren is, I believe, still a member), emergent, and even Reformed Christians (Mark Driscoll, anyone?)).

While I disagree with the EO view of the afterlife, for instance, I’m not going to accuse them of inventing it out of whole cloth without first hearing how they derived it. And, in that particular case, I can understand how they arrive at that conclusion, and that they’ve held that belief for the past couple of millenia, based upon the same general set of Scriptures we all claim to believe. Therefore, I will defend their right to hold such a view without being deemed heretics, even though I hold a different interpretation.

So it’s no surprise you don’t find a “consistency” here if you’re simply looking for a systematic theology (which most of us don’t hold) or that we hold all of the beliefs held by brothers in the faith whom we defend when unfairly attacked. Like Dallas Willard (and Phil) in this particular case.

32   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Sort of like the use of “Baptists” Brendt?

Actually, IIRC, while he’s not Baptist, Brendt’s church background is Reformed. And, as noted, we’ve defended Baptists before (like Rick Warren – and like the tradition, in general, when it was attacked/mischaracterized by Evan…)

33   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 5:16 pm

So Chris, it’s OK for you to come out at Defcon 1, because, of course, your indignation is righteous. While my indignation at such a blatant anti-salvation by grace statement is unrighteous.

34   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Chris, I did not make an ad homin attack on Willard. I attacked his statement.

35   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 5:25 pm

We funny, Phil, I thought God was a refuge, and a rock, a shelter, faithful and true, the same yesterday, today and forever.

Actually, David uses lots of contradictory images to describe God, depending on the circumstance in which we are confronted by Him. God doesn’t change, but that doesn’t mean we can (or do) understand him.

You’re trying to conflate the basic underpinning of God, and how He has described Himself with the way we experience Him – in our limited knowledge and foresight. Phil is clearly referencing the latter, while you are just being contrary with the former. (And, FYI, I don’t think his description that his “yoke is easy” means what you think it means…)

that quote is a gospel trainwreck. I am reacting to that quote (which is all I had before me) which is horrendous distortion of the Gospel, in my opionion. So if you are going to blame anyone, blame yourself for choosing to print such a poor representatation of Willard’s theology.

In other words, don’t blame my purposeful or accidental obtuseness and contrariness on your choice of quotations. Since it is Dallas Willard (or Richard Foster, who I treat interchangeably) I would have done the same no matter what you quoted.

I’ve never read Willard, but I understood his point without having to have someone draw a map for me, and without having to complain it was missing the Roman Road…

36   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Well Chris, I quess I will echo Rick’s charge in that in the 5 plus years I have been a member of this community I can’t think of a time when the writers here made any negative critiques of Bell, et. al.’s theology, but came against only those who challenged them.

At least you have been consistent in that! :-)

37   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
May 1st, 2011 at 5:28 pm

We funny, Phil, I thought God was a refuge, and a rock, a shelter, faithful and true, the same yesterday, today and forever. Someone I can run to and totally depend on. I wasn’t aware I should be on edge everytime I approached Him. Someone whose yoke was easy, not dangerous. Someone who I can walk with, a guardian through the storms of life. Somone I can find rest with. Someone who cleans up my messes, not creates new ones for me.

Well, given the fact that all of the disciples pretty much died martyr’s deaths, I’d say they might say following Christ can be dangerous.

Of course, God is our rock, our refuge, etc. But that doesn’t mean He wants us to live lives free from turmoil and trouble. It means we must simply trust Him amidst the storms of life. I often think that He purposely leads us into trying situations to develop our spiritual muscles, as it were.

38   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 5:29 pm

While my indignation at such a blatant anti-salvation by grace statement is unrighteous.

You didn’t even bother to seek to understand, if something was unclear. And, in this case, it is pretty clear that Willard isn’t trying to discuss mode of salvation or the mechanism of grace, but to try and discuss the nature of the presence of God. So your “indignation” at the lack of a description of “salvation by grace” is like me complaining that the Mona Lisa doesn’t doesn’t show Luke Skywalker in the right light.

39   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 5:31 pm

Chris, I did not make an ad homin attack on Willard. I attacked his statement.

The ad homenim I was referring to was Rick’s first response (which was to complain that we were quoting a contemporary source).

40   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 5:32 pm

In other words, don’t blame my purposeful or accidental obtuseness and contrariness on your choice of quotations.

OK so Phil chooses to post one quote out of 400 pages that Phil himself later admits does NOT adequately convey Willard’s definition of the Gospel. I call Willard on it and yet I am the one being purposefully obtuse and contrary. Well allrighty then.

41   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 5:34 pm

(And, FYI, I don’t think his description that his “yoke is easy” means what you think it means…)

Thanks for the reminder Chris. I’ve been meaning to pull out and veiw “the Priincess Bride” again. :-)

42   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 5:37 pm

But that doesn’t mean He wants us to live lives free from turmoil and trouble. It means we must simply trust Him amidst the storms of life. I often think that He purposely leads us into trying situations to develop our spiritual muscles, as it were.

Phil, I agree 100% with your statement here, but I certainly could not get there from your other one.

43   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Well Chris, I quess I will echo Rick’s charge in that in the 5 plus years I have been a member of this community I can’t think of a time when the writers here made any negative critiques of Bell, et. al.’s theology, but came against only those who challenged them.

Actually, in the case of Bell (specifically), I’ve come out very close to what he’s stated as his belief (and remained agnostic on similar points). And it’s not because I’m all that up on “liberal theology”, but because I’m most interested in how the original audience of the Gospel understood it. And if that means that sometimes I’m in line with fundamentalist belief, and other times in line with Messianic belief, and other times with Orthodox belief, and other times with evangelical belief, so be it. The Gospel was not “systematized” for hundreds of years after the church was founded, and each branch has retained parts of the original church (and deemphasized others). I tend to believe that nobody’s “got it all right”. And that tends to be where Bell lands.

As for disagreeing with him, I’ve said several times that I disagree with his stance in the Egalatarian/Complementarian debate, and that there are gender roles within the body of the church, and that we ought to submit to Paul’s judgment in the matter. Even so, I wouldn’t see this as a matter of primary importance.

Most of the cases where we’ve defended Bell (or at least I have defended him) have been where his actual position on a topic was mischaracterized (purposely or not). With Love Wins (and you can ask folks who read my behind-the-scenes comments in the months leading up to its release), I was prepared to be rather negative on the book if it came out declaring that we ought to hold a UR view of the afterlife. As it was, he laid out multiple views, saying that each had their arguments for and against them, but that ultimately we don’t know. Since I, too, am somewhat agnostic on what form the afterlife will take (though I lean towards annihilationism), I am prepared to defend that position.

44   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 5:45 pm

OK so Phil chooses to post one quote out of 400 pages that Phil himself later admits does NOT adequately convey Willard’s definition of the Gospel.

If Phil’s purpose was to choose a passage that conveyed Willard’s view of the Gospel, then that would be one thing. But since it seems his purpose was to give a quote which described Willard’s view of how Heaven might be impacted by the presence of God, I see no oversight on Phil’s part. The passage he chose is poetic and describes what Phil thought (and I think) is an interesting observation with some truth to it. The fact that he was posting the Mona Lisa when you wanted Star Wars is not his problem, but your own.

45   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 5:51 pm

And, in this case, it is pretty clear that Willard isn’t trying to discuss mode of salvation or the mechanism of grace, but to try and discuss the nature of the presence of God.

The topic of the quote as it stands alone is heaven and how one gets there, i.e., by God determining who can “stand it”. Left field loonacy.

The 2nd subject is that once one is there heaven may not be as one initally thought it would be.

If I am so obtuse and undiscerning for evaluating a statement as it stands alone, having only that to go by, it’s amaziing you can gleen so much of Willard’s theology from same after admittedly not having read ANY of his works.

It’s also takes a lot of hutzpah to defend a person to such a degree after admittedly not having read ANY of his works. That’s quite a limb you’re climbing out on Chris.

That indicates to me that you more value putting critics in their place vs. evaluating the truth of their criticism.

46   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 5:59 pm

But since it seems his purpose was to give a quote which described Willard’s view of how Heaven might be impacted by the presence of God,

Say what????

47   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 6:03 pm

The fact that he was posting the Mona Lisa when you wanted Star Wars is not his problem, but your own.

Christ, I didn’t “want” anything. I don’t expect the “Roman Road” everytime some one makes a statement on salvation. But Willard’s statement as quoted, is horrific. It’s just like saying God looks at the balance of the good and evil to decide whether or not to “let you in”.

48   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 6:07 pm

The topic of the quote as it stands alone is heaven and how one gets there, i.e., by God determining who can “stand it”. Left field loonacy.

You’ve never read much C.S. Lewis, have you? It is rather evident that Willard is not trying to be logically didactic, but that the latter portion of the quote is the narrative point he’s trying to emphasize, not some mode of determining “who’s in and who’s out”.

So, I’m just trying to be charitable by ascribing obtuseness to you in your inability to discern this.

it’s amaziing you can gleen so much of Willard’s theology from same after admittedly not having read ANY of his works. It’s also takes a lot of hutzpah (sic) to defend a person to such a degree after admittedly not having read ANY of his works.

While I haven’t read any of his works, he has been freely quoted by several pastors I implicitly trust, and at least one friend who uses his books (positively) in seminary courses. One of my pastor friends also led a small group study, where we used some articles (or excerpts) written by Willard.

That indicates to me that you more value putting critics in their place vs. evaluating the truth of their criticism.

No, I just trust the judgment of those who’ve actually read him charitably and would not misrepresent him – in praise or criticism. Whereas you’ve shown yourself trustworthy at excessively criticizing any post which favorably mentions Willard, Foster or Warren…

49   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Christ, I didn’t “want” anything.

I will assume your fingers got ahead of you here…

But Willard’s statement as quoted, is horrific. It’s just like saying God looks at the balance of the good and evil to decide whether or not to “let you in”.

Look – professionally, I’m an engineer that works in HR (a contradiction if there ever was one). The engineer in me sees how you can possibly come up with this criticism (if you ignore everything past the first clause of the quote), but the liberal arts student I once was is utterly amazed at how uncharitable (or obtuse) one must truly be to come away from that quote with the impression that Willard is making a statement about one’s moral standing as God’s selection criteria. That’s just nuts, and it’s your problem, not Willard’s (or Phil’s)…

50   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
May 1st, 2011 at 6:51 pm

The topic of the quote as it stands alone is heaven and how one gets there, i.e., by God determining who can “stand it”. Left field loonacy.

Actually, this is sort of Willard describing election to some degree. I’m not a Calvinist, and I generally don’t believe election applies in an individual sense, but there are plenty of Christians who do. I would call it lunacy.

In any case, I don’t believe that is the thrust of the quote. The whole idea Willard is getting is that the way we live our lives will determine the type of character we possess in the future. If we are not making a concerted effort to follow Christ now, why would we want to be with Him for all eternity? It would be like if after asking my wife to marry me I would have simply said, “see you at the wedding next year”. Obviously, something would be wrong if I didn’t desire to spend time with her and get to know her better in the meantime.

51   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Whereas you’ve shown yourself trustworthy at excessively criticizing any post which favorably mentions Willard, Foster or Warren…

True, I will not deny it. At least for Foster who I have read and studied and who claims Willard as a brother in arms (admittedly guilt by association, but justifiably so). And also for Rick Warren who I have also studied extensively and experienced first hand being a fellow Baptist and all. :-) So you are correct in that I reject the theology of these folks and will warn people against their writings everytime the issue comes up as a matter of conscience. I don’t think you can accuse me of ad hominem attacks against said, however.

52   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 6:57 pm

In any case, I don’t believe that is the thrust of the quote. The whole idea Willard is getting is that the way we live our lives will determine the type of character we possess in the future. If we are not making a concerted effort to follow Christ now, why would we want to be with Him for all eternity? It would be like if after asking my wife to marry me I would have simply said, “see you at the wedding next year”. Obviously, something would be wrong if I didn’t desire to spend time with her and get to know her better in the meantime.

Again, Phil, there are many elements of this statement I agree with. But you can’t get “here” from “there” as “there” was written. A short explanation such as written above would have helped any who have not read Willard understand his position. I still maintain, as it stands alone, that quote is horrendous in its prima facie implications.

53   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
May 1st, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Well Chris, I quess I will echo Rick’s charge in that in the 5 plus years I have been a member of this community I can’t think of a time when the writers here made any negative critiques of Bell, et. al.’s theology, but came against only those who challenged them.

Why should anyone here write anything negative about Bell or critical? Isn’t that covered well enough on the rest of the internet? Or would you despise us because this is the one place on the internet where WHAT HE WRITES is actually judged for what it says?

When Bell writes something that is anti-gospel, I am sure you will see the writers here call him on it. As it is….

54   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Or would you despise us

Jerry I don’t despise anyone here or anywhere that I can think of off hand. However, that accusation could be made right back to you guys here sometimes. Some of us just point out that your “feelings” for the ODMs (of which I do not consider myself a part of or supporter of) are exactly in the vein of what you accuse others of, your comments are often just as nasty, and often are just as ad hominem in nature.

55   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Why should anyone here write anything negative about Bell or critical?

Well maybe because you have “prophet” as one of your monikers and one expects prophets to speak out on such things.

But, if you are in agreement, then you would not be expected to warn.

56   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 8:46 pm

but the liberal arts student I once was is utterly amazed at how uncharitable (or obtuse) one must truly be to come away from that quote with the impression that Willard is making a statement about one’s moral standing as God’s selection criteria.

I didn’t say anthing about one’s moral standing. Willard’s comments implies that God looks at the individual, determines how well said individual could “stand” the presence of God (whatever that means) and that is the determining factor on whetheror not they are allowed into heaven. This is works righetousness (i.e., it depends on my ability, something in me). My other statements were similitudes, nothing more.

57   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Willard’s comments implies that God looks at the individual, determines how well said individual could “stand” the presence of God (whatever that means) and that is the determining factor on whetheror not they are allowed into heaven. This is works righetousness

Not at all – this goes back to the reference from Paul’s words:

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

So, unless you want to argue that Paul is arguing for works-righteousness, neither is Willard.

58   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 1st, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Well maybe because you have “prophet” as one of your monikers and one expects prophets to speak out on such things.

Perhaps there is no need to speak out.

But, if you are in agreement, then you would not be expected to warn.

Even if we might disagree on matters of secondary importance, there is no need or expectation to “warn”.

59   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
May 1st, 2011 at 9:35 pm

But, if you are in agreement, then you would not be expected to warn.

Well, as I’ve said before John, I don’t read Rob Bell’s books. (I have read one, and I did three long posts about what I liked and didn’t like)

Other than that, I don’t read his books or listen to his sermons so it is terribly difficult for me to say much one way or the other. I typically only write about what I read.

60   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
May 1st, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Yeah, about that ‘prophet’ part. the other day I was listening to a sermon by a fella named Currid whose a good reformed fellow. He pointed out that in the OT there was a fellow name Jephthah who, in the book of Judges, resorts to sacrificially offering one of his children as a whole burnt offering.

Ironically, later on in the NT Jephthah is heralded in the book of Hebrews as a man of faith.

It’s funny the one’s God chooses to honor and the one’s he doesn’t isn’t it?

61   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 10:26 pm

#57 Chris that is one of the most non sequitor arguments that I have read in a long time. You may be defending your own beliefs, but certainly not Willard’s. How do you know what ** he ** meant if you have not even read his book?

Willard’s statement, when evaluated in isolation (as it was presented I might add) is pne of a work’s based salvation i.e., God sees some merit in me that allows me in heaven. Your argument from Paul is totally moot to the question at hand.

And, by the way, Paul is not addressing salvation in any fashion here. He’s addressing rewards for works that survive God’s test. Willard is the one talking about getting into heaven.

62   John Hughes    
May 1st, 2011 at 10:30 pm

And as far as Jesus’ yoke being “light” I assume He meant His way of salvation, i.e., faith and trust in Himself is “light” in comparison to the “burden” of all the so called righteous actions required by the Pharisaical way to salvation. Feel free to corect me if I’m wrong.

63   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 2nd, 2011 at 12:26 am

And, by the way, Paul is not addressing salvation in any fashion here. He’s addressing rewards for works that survive God’s test. Willard is the one talking about getting into heaven.

Are you really this clueless? They are both addressing the exact same thing – you’re just so trapped in your systematic theology and your blind hatred for Willard you can’t see it. Willard isn’t talking about how individuals get into Heaven (i.e. the pre-determining factors) – he is commenting on a basic, ontological commonality of those who are there.

And as far as Jesus’ yoke being “light” I assume He meant His way of salvation, i.e., faith and trust in Himself is “light” in comparison to the “burden” of all the so called righteous actions required by the Pharisaical way to salvation.

A Rabbi’s “yoke” is the way in which he interprets Torah and what commandments be believe supersede others. Most Pharisees’ yokes were quite complicated, but Jesus’ was as simple (”light”) as they come – Love God, love your neighbor. Even so, just because a yoke is “light” doesn’t mean that it is simply to carry out…

64   John Hughes    
May 2nd, 2011 at 8:17 am

I do not hate Willard. I do hate the demonic eastern mysticism that he and Foster promote to the many times non-discerning Body of Christ. I do find it interesting how you have such a deep understanding of Willard’s theology from 2nd hand information gleaned from other writers you respect instead of research on your own (the same thing which others have been soundly condemned for doing on this site).

Willard’s statement is inane and the more I re-read it to see if I have missed something the more ridiculous it reads.

I am thoroughly convinced that God will let everyone into heaven who, in his considered opinion, can stand it.

Madness.

65   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 2nd, 2011 at 9:02 am

I do hate the demonic eastern mysticism that he and Foster promote to the many times non-discerning Body of Christ.

What an utter load of crap. Total. 100%. BS.

But whatever.

I do find it interesting how you have such a deep understanding of Willard’s theology from 2nd hand information gleaned from other writers you respect instead of research on your own (the same thing which others have been soundly condemned for doing on this site).

First off, if you’ve not read the book, you’ve got no right to whine at me for not reading it while offering a full-throated oh-woe-is-me-the-wolves-are-coming hand-wringing assessment of a paragraph from it.

Second off, I trust the other writers of this site about 99% more than you, so when I have to pick and choose what to read, and where my interests lie, I trust them if they’ve read the book.

Thirdly, I also trust my own pastor, who is far more conservative than I am, who quotes from Willard from time to time, and who I’ve engaged on the particular topic a few years ago. He was the first one who gave me an insight into why the fundies soil their undies when confronted with Spiritual Disciplines (with a good chunk of it leading back to the argument of Regulative vs. Normative principles).

Since the entire topic of “spiritual formation” and “spiritual discipline” is the ZOMG IT’S THE H3R3TIC@L BOOGEYMAN to fundies, it’s no surprise that every time you hear the name “Foster” or “Willard” you run to grab your garlic and holy water and sharpen your knives.

So let’s look at the phrase you picked (even though it, by itself, misses the point of the entire quote):

I am thoroughly convinced that God will let everyone into heaven who, in his considered opinion, can stand it.

One might charitably read this (particularly in light of what follows it) as not being “literal selection criteria for a positive afterlife experience”, but rather a common quality measure of the population. Correlation does not equal causation.

Others who are predisposed to uncharitable reading of anything from Willard will read this and give it the most negative spin possible.

And you are simply a case in point.

66   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
May 2nd, 2011 at 9:09 am

I do not hate Willard. I do hate the demonic eastern mysticism that he and Foster promote to the many times non-discerning Body of Christ.

I’ve read both Foster and Willard (more of the latter than the former), and I’ve not read anything from either of them that could even be described as anything near demonic. It’s clear to me from their books that they both are Christ-followers and their hearts come through in their writings.

As far as mysticism, their is nothing wrong with the concept in and of itself. Can an overemphasis of it lead some people down the wrong road? Sure. That can be said with just about anything, though.

I’m sorry, but this is the second time I’ve read this book by Willard, and I’ve enjoyed it much more this time than the first. I don’t really understand what your issue is with the quote. Certainly God is sovereign, and if anyone has the power to make the decision, it’s Him. Perhaps because it is a step away from the mechanistic, fill-in-the-blanks view of salvation adopted by evangelicalism which leaves no room for mystery or the unknown. Other than that, I’m having a hard time seeing why the quote is so baffling to you.

67   John Hughes    
May 2nd, 2011 at 9:35 am

Phil, I qualifed “mysticism” with “Eastern Mysticism”. Obviously there is a mystical element to Chrisitanity.

Certainly God is sovereign, and if anyone has the power to make the decision, it’s Him.

That statement in itself is true Phil. But God is not arbitary and He has chosen to reveal to us His way unto salvation. He has stated His word is eternal and does not change so to my understanding God has chosen the path, communicated it and willnot make changes to it.

P.S. Though we obviously disagree, I find your responses very gracious and I apprecite that!

68   John Hughes    
May 2nd, 2011 at 9:44 am

Phil,

I qualified “mysticism” with “Eastern Mysticism”. I do certainly believe there is a mystical element to our Faith.

Of course God is sovereign, but He has designed the way of salvation in His Word which He states is unchanging and eternal. So I think I will stick with we revelation we have been given. :-)

By the way, I appreciate your kind and measured responses.

69   John Hughes    
May 2nd, 2011 at 9:48 am

Sorry about the double posts. This computer has some quirk where it sees a duplicate comment upon the first entry.

70   John Hughes    
May 2nd, 2011 at 9:52 am

#65. Wow. I’m glad you got that off your chest. Wouldn’t want you to explode or anything.

P.S. Yes, eastern mysticism is 100% crap.

71   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 2nd, 2011 at 10:12 am

#65 I got this response “your latest comment had some good points with inflammatory verbiage. Funny, yes. But probably not beneficial” and they’re probably right.

#70 That Foster and Willard propose anything “demonic” is also 100% crap.

72   John Hughes    
May 2nd, 2011 at 10:46 am

#70 That Foster and Willard propose anything “demonic” is also 100% crap.

Why. These guys are above personal deception?

73   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
May 2nd, 2011 at 10:50 am

That statement in itself is true Phil. But God is not arbitary and He has chosen to reveal to us His way unto salvation. He has stated His word is eternal and does not change so to my understanding God has chosen the path, communicated it and willnot make changes to it.

I don’t disagree with any of this, and I don’t think Willard would either. The point that Willard is getting at isn’t that God is so volatile that He can’t be trusted or something like that. It’s quite the opposite, really. We know what God’s character is like, and we know that Christ exhibited that character perfectly while on earth, and He calls us to imitate Him. We should, then, make every effort to submit to the working of the Holy Spirit and follow that path.

I don’t necessarily believe in purgatory (although I’m not entirely convinced that there isn’t some such process after death), but I do believe that there is a purifying nature of God’s presence. Like Isaiah’s encounter with Him, I believe there are parts of lives that will need to be burned away for us to truly enjoy His presence. Some of it might be stuff that we don’t necessarily want to let go of. That’s basically what I read the intent of this particular quote to be.

74   Brendt    http://csaproductions.com/blog/
May 2nd, 2011 at 8:25 pm

John H (#64): … the many times non-discerning Body of Christ.

The easy response would be to say, “What would we do if it wasn’t for you?”

But let’s go a bit deeper and observe that this says a lot more about your opinion of God than it does your opinion of the body.

75   Neil    
May 2nd, 2011 at 9:01 pm

i was away from the blog for the weekend and now checked in to see a quote with 74 comments…

…i got through the first dozen, almost, and thought – are people really objecting to a metaphor as if it were a catechism?

76   Jerry    http://www.jerryhillyer.com
May 2nd, 2011 at 9:32 pm

#75, yeah, it’s one of the oddities of church folk…although we live by a book full of languages tricks like metaphor, simile, apocalypse, riddle, hyperbole, and suchlike…most of us still don’t get it when such tricks are used in everyday conversation or, gasp, books written by christians.

77   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
May 3rd, 2011 at 10:10 am

Well, Jerry, a couple observations:

1) Most movements never escape the definition of their genesis – and in the case of Protestantism, “protest” is a root word, and it still seems to be based on a public airing of grievances truly seeking separation, not reconciliation.

2) When you seek to be offended, you most always find what you’re looking for.

78   Neil    
May 3rd, 2011 at 11:03 am

i suppose it is also the nature of the web and this site as well… that anything posted will immediately be dissected for any and all errors and heresies.

sometimes, however, it is better to take the gist of what someone is saying as opposed to assuming the details are meant to be literal.

79   John Hughes    
May 3rd, 2011 at 1:40 pm

#78 – Or sometimes it is just as simple as adding a small sentence putting the quote in a context as Jerry just did on his Bell quote.

80   John Hughes    
May 3rd, 2011 at 3:51 pm

#74 – So Brendt is it your contention that the vast majority of church goers are avid Bible scholars and that the Biblical admonitions for pastors to look out for their flocks are not really needed?

In my own denomination — Baptist –known as “people of the word” the average church members only reads their Bible under 5 minutes per week which means they only read the Bible at church or in Sunday School and not on their own at home. This in a denomination which constanly emphasizes personal Bible study.

Every denomination or populist preacher, be it Bell, McArthur, Warren, the Pope, etc. have their sycopants who drink in their everyword without checking what they say back to the Scriptures. Anti-Bereans if you will.

People like you and those of us who frequent here and other such blogs who delve into the deeper things of Christ are a small, small minority of Christianity. I also qualified non-discerning with “many times” non-discerning. I did not make an absolute statement. I did not in anyway, shape form or fashion imply that I was the only one with discernment.