The Invisible Man and His Shadow (An Allegory)

Shadow

There once was an invisible man. Though no one could see this man, they could see his shadow. Over the years, people tried to learn about the man by observing his shadow. They recorded their findings, carefully documenting every detail they saw in the shadow.

But they ran into some problems.

For one thing, the shadow didn’t always look the same to everyone. It would acquire the color and texture of whatever it happened to be resting on. And it seemed to change shape depending on the time of day and the angle from which people observed it. Some saw the shadow as extraordinarily tall and skinny, while others saw it as short and squat.

The Nature of Hell—a Skeleton in God’s Closet?

The Skeletons in God’s Closet

Joshua Ryan Butler’s The Skeletons in God’s Closet goes a long way toward correcting many of the harmful caricatures of God. As I stated in my review, I really appreciate Butler’s perspectives, even though I don’t agree with all of his conclusions.

As promised, I will now examine his view of hell in greater detail and respond with some thoughts from my own view.

Butler starts by examining the caricature of hell as an underground torture chamber (pages 4–5). He and I both disagree with this picture. Hell is not underground, its purpose is not torture, and it isn’t constructed as a chamber.

That said, while an underground chamber may be the pop-culture view of hell, I don’t personally know of many Christians who view it that way. The caricature I hear from most Christians is that hell exists as an alternate spiritual dimension. Some view this place as a literal lake of fire, and others view it as simply a place of separation from God.

The Importance of Giving up Our Rights

Gavel

Yesterday morning, I made an offhand comment on Facebook:

I’m always amazed to hear Christians talking about “defending our rights.” One of the most fundamental aspects of Jesus’ message is that we must give up our rights.

I should have known better.

I thought this was one of those things all Christians agree about in theory and just have a hard time remembering and practicing. I get that. I have a hard time letting go of my rights. It’s one of my biggest struggles on a day-to-day basis. In that comment, I was preaching to myself as much as to anyone else.

Yet I wasn’t expecting to return and find a barrage of comments from Christians actually arguing against the principle of self-denial.

The Book I Contributed to Is Now Available!

Simple Church

I just wanted to give a quick update and let you know that Simple Church: Unity Within Diversity is now available!

If you get the Kindle edition, you’ll be able to read it immediately. Or, if you have Amazon Prime, you can get the paperback with free two-day shipping. (And you can get a free 30-day trial of Prime if you don’t already have it.)

In addition to getting a copy for yourself, it would also make a great Christmas gift.

Order your copies today!

The Skeletons in God’s Closet by Joshua Ryan Butler (Book Review)

The Skeletons in God’s Closet

We believe that God is love and God is good. All Christians affirm these simple truths. But for a God whose defining attribute is love, his actions don’t always appear to be very loving. And for a God who is perfectly good, he seems to have done some things that aren’t very good at all.

Does our beautifully good God have an ugly side? Does God have something to hide?

In The Skeletons in God’s Closet, Joshua Ryan Butler sets out two answer three questions: Would a merciful God send people to hell? Would a loving God condemn people at the judgment? And would a good God wage holy war?

Butler contends that we have set up caricatures of God—pictures that contain a semblance of the truth without the substance of reality.