Signs of the Times?

This week, in an interview with ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, the Reverend Franklin Graham, son of the famous evangelistic preacher Billy Graham, proclaimed to a national television audience that signs of the nearness of the end times were abundantly apparent in an increase of wars, famines, and earthquakes. Graham asserted that, based on his understanding of Matthew chapter 24 where Jesus speaks of these very events occurring during a time of great tribulation (what he interprets to be the end times), the second coming of Christ is imminent. It is popular belief in evangelical and fundamentalist circles that the many armed conflicts and natural disasters that occur today are divine “birth pains” leading up to the main events of earth’s destruction via God’s judgment and the return of Jesus Christ physically to this world. The only problem with Graham’s assessment, besides what I believe to be a mistaken understanding of eschatology (study of last things), is that wars, famines, and earthquakes are most certainly not increasing in frequency. Continue reading

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Book Review: “Love Wins” by Rob Bell

Rob Bell, author of Velvet Elvis, has produced a masterful treatment of the subject of hell and heaven from the perspective of God’s unfathomable and limitless love.  I read this book in one day!  Bell hits on all the main issues that Christians struggle with in the debate over heaven and hell.  How could God create billions of people only to save a relatively small handful of them?  Bell’s thesis is that God’s love wins in the end.  While he stopped short of endorsing universalism, keeping the door open for one to reject God’s love forever, the book was the best down-to-earth explanation of the universalist arguments that I have seen in print so far.  Most books on the subject tend to treat the subject from a scholarly theological perspective, but Rob Bell is a master of explaining things almost in a story-like manner. Continue reading