Grasping at Straws in the Tower of Academia

In the ongoing debate about universalism or the assertion that eventually everyone will be saved, proponents of universalism have often referred with an almost kind of hushed reverence to a volume written by Dr. Ilaria Ramelli, The Christian Doctrine of Apokatastasis: A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena. Ms. Ramelli’s work runs to 912 pages, and I was anxious to read it for myself. Given that the hardcover is available…

Mr. Fudge and the New Reformation

In the course of my researches into the eternity of hell as presented in the Scriptures and the Fathers, I have come across a wonderful book on the subject by Mr. Edward William Fudge, entitled The Fire That Consumes: The Biblical Case for Conditional Immortality. As is apparent from the title, Mr. Fudge advances the view that the unquenchable fire of hell (see Mark 9:48) will not last forever, but is only…

The Consensus of the Fathers

How can you be sure what the Bible teaches? I get this question a lot from inquirers and catechumens. Most of them come from Protestantism, where their experience has taught them that the Bible is not self-interpreting and that appeals therefore to sola scriptura are in vain. Indeed this was not a recent lesson; from the early days of the Reformation it became apparent that Scripture needed a lens through which it…

A Fixed Date for Pascha?

Recently there has been some talk in church circles of changing the present calendar so that Pascha (or “Easter” as it is known in the West) falls on the same day every year. The present Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, made headlines lately by saying that he would join the talks already under way between Pope Francis and leaders of the Coptic Church to fix a date for Easter so that the…

Gentile Dogs?

In the Gospel for the Sunday of the Canaanite Woman (Matthew 15:21-28) we find a phrase that some have found troubling.  The troubling nature of the phrase was brought home to me in a university lecture I once heard, for the lecturer said that in this passage “Jesus called a Gentile woman a dog.”  He thought it rather odd, and evidence that perhaps the Christians had an overly rosy view of their…

What God Has Prepared for Those who Love Him

If the Biblical teaching about hell suffers in the popular imagination, being thought of as a kind of subterranean torture chamber erected and run by all-powerful divine sociopath, the Biblical teaching about heaven and the Kingdom doesn’t fare much better. The word “heaven” conjures up semi-comic images of people in long white nightgowns with wings and halos lounging about on clouds and playing harps. It all looks—well, boring, which fits right in…