Sermon – 26 September 2010

Here’s what I said yesterday in the pulpit…

There’s no getting away from it. Sooner or later we do have to think about hell. That’s the message from this morning’s gospel reading and I don’t think that there is any choice but to deal with it head on and allow ourselves the chance to ask ourselves what we believe about it.

I must confess to groaning a little as I turned up the readings for today. Having just returned from a lovely holiday in what seemed like paradise (warm sun, clear sea, beautiful scenery, good food) I flicked through the lectionary to check out the gospel reading for this morning to see what I would be preaching about.

The rich man and lazarus stared me straight in the face. An uncompromising, difficult parable.

A rich man and a poor man (who has lain by the rich man’s gate) both die and the parable goes on to relate various discussions between Abraham and the rich man about their respective fates. Lazarus has gone to his reward which is represented as being with Abraham. Meanwhile, the rich man has gone to something altogether more fiery where he is tormented. A place which culturally we refer to as hell, though that’s not the word used in the story itself. We hear the rich man’s appeals for cooling water to refresh him. An act of mercy is requested. The answer is no.

We then hear him ask Abraham to send someone to warn his relatives so that they might not suffer the same fate as he has done. An act of compassion. The answer is no.

And there it ends.

I remember worshipping in a community once where the custom was to say, at the end of a reading from Scripture, “This is the word of the Lord” to which everyone replied, “Thanks be to God”.

One day  a friend of mine was reading a passage, I can’t remember whether it was this one or something quite like it. You could feel a sense of depression, misery and incredulity growing as he read it and then at the end simply looked around and asked instead, “is this the word of the Lord?”

I find this passage a little depressing myself, so must dig a little harder than usual to find something to say about it which is encouraging and uplifting.

The first thing to say is that you can still find people, plenty of people, who believe that that if you die in sin you will go to hell and it will be fiery and nasty and horrid.

That’s not the kind of religion which does anything for me. If you want, I’ll happily point you towards churches which proclaim such grim teachings. However, even in the face of this morning’s gospel, I’m not remotely tempted to go down that path myself.

I don’t believe that it is in the character of the God I know to condemn people to a fiery hell. I believe that God loves us with a passion that burns away any of our own sins and leaves God relating to the person whom we long to be. Whole. Integrated. Free. Loved.

Hell just doesn’t come into it.

So let me just try to grasp hold of a few interesting things about this parable for us to latch onto.

The first thing to note is that this is not Jesus’s story. It exists in Egyptian stories and from other rabbis. Its a formula – a rich man and a poor man die and this is what happens in the afterlife.

Its a formula. You know how jokes have certain formulas. (Knock knock. Or A man walks into a bar. Or there was and Englishman, and Irishman and a Scotsman). Its that kind of story. The hearers would have known that it was a teaching story. They would have known the basics about the two men dying but htey would have listened out for Jesus’s own take on the story.

First thing to note is that the rich and the poor are divided only by their financial status. This is not a story about sin.

It is a story which seems to indicate that God is on the side of the poor rather than the rich.

Second thing to note is that they appear to have equal dignity and integrity. The rich man does not appear to oppress the poor man. Neither does Lazarus beg. They are simply rich and poor. And God seems to be on the side of the poor.

Third thing to note from Jesus is that we are supposed to work this truth out for ourselves. We won’t get messengers, angels or miracles. We simply have the world around us and the testimony of Moses, the prophets and so many religious figures from the ages saying simply – God is on the side of the poor, the disadvantaged, the underdog, the oppressed and the troubled.

It is these things that Jesus seems to be trying to convey to us through this parable, which only Luke reports – the gospel writer who emphasises God’s preference for the poor more than any other Biblical writer.

This parable is a storytelling way of proclaiming what Luke proclaimed in Mary’s song at the start of his gospel:

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

It just may be that Jesus is talking economics rather than theology. It just may be that he is subverting old stories about heaven and hell to speak about daily politics, politics which are still with us today.

I must confess myself to be not a little puzzled by current politics in the UK. I used to think that I understood which parties represented the values that I care about most.

I can’t say that I do now. The jury is out on who can bring about mainstream prosperity and wellbeing which I think most people of goodwill long for.

However, I do know that the questions raised by any political debate are spiritual ones as well as economic ones for politics is a spiritual discipline as well as an act of persuasion.

Politics, economics, theology and spirituality all seem to me to be interrelated questions. Many people seem surprised by that these days though that might be one of the things which was at the heart of what the Pope was talking about in his recent visit to this great city.

But whatever I think, or whatever the Pope thinks, there is some evidence for thinking that this wee parable which seemed at first a little on the depressing side and all about hell may in fact be about finding strategies for building God’s kingdom on earth. With a God who seems to be on the side of the poor and disadvantaged, it matters little whether the starting point for change is prayer or politics.

And when I think about that, I find myself not depressed at all by the gospel reading this morning but rather more uplifted.

Indeed, my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.

In the name of God who made us, saves us and inspires us.



  1. Dear Kevin:

    That a particular idea in religion, Scripture or even nature may do nothing for you or me at the present moment has absolutely nothing to do with its objective truth or validity.

    I used to be sure that spinach did nothing for me and ice cream was all the nutrient needed…a long time ago. Gravity does nothing for me, I wish I could fly…!

    Though I respect your thoughts on the passage, you have not dealt with the consecuences of poor choices at all, in this life or in the next! That is something which our very loving God says a lot about!

    Poverty and misery stared the rich man in his face everyday and he seems to have chosen to live as if a great chasm separated Lazarus’s world from his, he saw lack, injustice and illness and did nothing to aleviate it…he made choices which in plain reading of the passage have consecuences.

    It does not make us feel warm and fuzzy because it is not supposed to…maybe it is there to stir us into action, to make us aware of blind spots in our piety and remind us that actions or lack thereof have consecuences for us and for others.



  2. Hi Kelvin.

    I hope you don’t mind me responding to this sermon which you published.

    I appreciate your honesty in acknowledging how difficult you find passages like this one, but your subsequent interpretation strikes me as intellectual contortionism. It feels like someone doing a crossword, and getting disheartened that, having filled in a number of the answers, the remaining ones don’t work.

    ‘I know the answer is “umbrella”, but the intersecting words only allow me to write “ambielpa”. Therefore, there must be a device called an ambielpa which people unfold to keep the rain off them.That must be what the author of the crossword is trying to teach us’.

    I think this is what happens when we insist that scripture be conformed to our own worldview which we are attempting to establish and promote, and I think this is what you are doing here.

    Is it possible that we, who are sinful and tainted by sin, might be far less capable of deciding what is morally right and wrong than God is? Who has the ultimate authority on what is real and what is not? God or man? Is it at all possible that some of your beliefs about the reality of hell need to be rethought, in the light of scriptures like this?

    If some of our answers in the crossword are wrong, we have to be willing to acknowledge our need for correction, even at the most fundamental of levels. Otherwise, we are engaged on a largely futile exercise.

    So much better to seek to wear lenses that bring every aspect of scripture into clear focus, that we might be

    “an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”

    (2 Timothy 2)

    in love

  3. Hi Beat

    Yes – its possible, and I’d say that represented a view that I once held. However, I didn’t find that it fitted with either scripture or experience terribly well either.

    I’d say that we are tainted by glory rather than believing that we are tainted with sin.

    Ultimate authority for knowing what’s real must lie with human beings. They are mere automata otherwise, living lives under judgement.

  4. On a purely linguistic point, Beat, don’t you think that Luke would have used the word “tartarus” rather than Hades if he was trying to convey the kind of vision of hell that seems to sustain you?

  5. Steven says

    Dear Kelvin

    I also share your dis-ease with this passage. In a sense it is a mark of “orthodoxy” to engage with such difficult passages rather than dismiss them outright. Engagement with a particular position/tradition implies a respect for that position/tradition.

    The problem as I see it is that both Scripture and tradition (strongly) support the traditional stance, that there is a “hell” which may or may not involve conscious punishment but which, at the least, may amount to a permanent separation from God.

    The idea of permanent separation (whether conscious or unconscious, in body or in soul) is something that we are called to take seriously and I believe your discomfort with this passage – indicates that you do so.

    That is not to say that we can get to a place where we can “explain away” this damnable doctrine. We are mortal, finite creatures. We have, on either side of this debate, no clue whatsoever as to what happens to us after death. Where then did such a doctrine come from? Well, just as we are tainted with glory, we are able to articulate something of what God is. We therefore love, because God loves (albeit in a poor imitation of that love). We also feel great (and sometimes even justified) anger at injustice, cruelty and evil. I believe that such emotions are also “of God” and reflect our maker’s mark.

    Whether or not this squares with the idea of an impassable and eternal chasm betwixt God and “unsaved” mankind is another matter. Eternity is a hell of a long time. And perhaps this idea, where it is held, ought to be held provisionally and not dogmatically. Hell ought not to be, in that sense, a “salvation issue”.

    Perhaps such views ought to be balanced by the broader context of scripture. The early Fathers seemed to be split on the issue (Clement, Origen, Gregory vs Augustine) and so we ought not to be too surprised that there remains division today. There is certainly an argument to be made for Christian universalism, see the helpful scripture listed here:

    Anyway, it is difficult, and we are called to wrestle with this and also to challenge one another, in love, and to humbly continue in the faith, letting God be Judge – knowing that we have both an advocate and saviour in Jesus Christ and, contrary to the rules of procedural fairness, our Father is on the bench.



  6. Hi Kelvin, I appreciate your replies.

    Regarding your comment “tainted by glory/sin”… The purpose of this comment seems to be a rejection of a theoretical standpoint that takes perverse pleasure in the idea of a fallen mankind. Thus, the remedy for these people (as you might see it) is to be positive thinkers rather than pessimists. See the good, not the evil. Of course, there is much to be said for setting our minds on “whatever is good, noble…etc” I do not think that God intends for Christians to be preoccupied with Hell, and neither do I think that being saved from Hell is necessarily the primary reason for being a Christian.

    Some people calling themselves Christians DO take wrongful delight in the downfall of others, not in reverence for God’s fearsome justice, but with pernicious glee that such was not their own end.(And what a risk they run!)

    Nevertheless, I think that a correct understanding of hell, justice, wrath, and punishment is vital for a Christian. These things are dramatic and shocking, and recurring subjects throughout Scripture.

    We must cultivate a robust and comprehensive theological understanding of the nature of hell, judgement, justice…etc… because when presented with them, we need strong assurance that we have recourse to escape them. So when Christ himself talks about hell, the burning place of wailing and gnashing of teeth, then we better be 100% sure of what he’s actually referring to, and also how we might escape it (if indeed, he’s not just talking sheer metaphorical fantasy)

    The rich man and Lazarus is not a story of massive subtlety. The rich man ignores suffering right at his gate, evincing a refusal to believe in the consequences of such sin. He believes he is entitled to the good things he has, and that Lazarus is not. The God of justice takes pity on Lazarus and is pleased to redress the balance for him. The rich man equally feels God’s justice, not because he was rich, but because he acted as though he was accountable only to himself. He knew his lack of charity was wrong. (if he didn’t, why should he be punished?)

    Implied in the story is that when the rich man had been told about hell, he refused to believe in it. When he finally begs for his descendants to be warned, he is told that they would refuse to believe it too.

    So that’s why I’m worried when I hear teaching in the church that (dare I say?) obfuscates over minor linguistic details and encourages us not to believe the threat of a literal hell, no matter how many times these subjects come up in the bible?

    If this parable is about hell, then it is not “depressing”. It is a frightening wake-up call. A genuine cause for alarm. It is only depressing if you are reading it and thinking “oh well. It seems the bible has got the emphasis wrong again.” Or, it could be suicidally depressing if we did not know about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the grace of God that means our sins can be forgiven. For the Christian who knows this in his heart, stories of Hell can only spur us on to pursue greater delight in the gospel of grace. To know what we have escaped, through Christ, and to be in a position to learn from it before it was too late…how can we respond except with awe, and reverence and gratitude?

    it feels like your desire is to remove this parable from Jesus’ lips, and instead subtly attribute it to Luke, and from there opt for a more generalised, sociological interpretation that deals loosely with rich and poor. God does care for the poor, yes, but because he has a sense of justice, and one which transcends the temporal, sociological sphere and extends into eternity. This parable is about God first, just as Christ’s ministry was about revealing God first.

    My aim is not to criticize you for the sake of giving you a hard time, (I certainly don’t enjoy being so challenging)Rather, my aim is to ask you to be prepared to reconsider some of those views you may have held once, and engage with them again.

    I propose that the reality of the true gospel of salvation is far greater than any pleasure you might receive from the prospect of socio-political reform. And for that to take root, I believe that your theology of hell needs to be reconsidered, in order that your understanding of salvation might become something which overflows with the glory and power of God.



    • To be honest, I think my understanding of salvation does overflow with the glory and power of God, but I don’t agree with you, stand humbly at the tail end of an honoured line of God’s saints through the ages who wouldn’t agree with you either and am pretty much untroubled by the fact that I do.

      As I said in the sermon, there are plenty of churches preaching this kind of thing and I’m happy to help people to find that if that’s what they are looking for.

      “It is a frightening wake-up call. A genuine cause for alarm.” Sounds like your Jesus is speaking of an ogre.

      Thanks for the clarification of what you think about the parable though. The rich man in your interpretation could have been saved by what? Works or thoughts?

  7. No separation from the glory and power of God would have to mean that God would gift to people the likeness and nature of Christ whether they wanted it or not. Why wait until the “Day of Judgement” to do this instead of immediately after the resurrection of Christ. Why allow evil to continue if mankind is unable to refuse or resist Salvation. Could it be that we are able to resist the Holy Spirit and that the man in the story had come to the cut off point. His asking for water could be seen as him asking for the Holy Spirit.
    “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Acts 7:51.
    I also believe that God does not send anyone to hell but that it is possible for people to find “their own way” to a place of separation from God.

  8. Zebadee says

    Good works only smacks of the ‘Palagian’ heresy. Are we saying that Lazarus doing good works only is not enough? Is this what is being claimed? Somehow I think not

  9. seraph says


    It is not “churches preaching this kind of thing”. It is a passage which St. Luke’s gospel put on the lips of Jesus himself. I think most readers of this passage would take the plain admonishment it presents more seriously.

    That you should think man is the final authority on truth is concerning given our very limited understanding of the universe we live in. Man discovers truth often by trial and erroe, but he is not the final arbiter nor decider of it….for Christians that role is God’s alone.

    Unless I misunderstood you, it seems then there are no real consecuenses for lack of charity of the type exibited by the rich man in this parable. That is not something I have encountered in my reading of saints past and present. Christ certainly seemed to believe in consecuences and this parable alludes to some. Though we not consider the possibility of a literal eternal “hell” , which this does not necesarily reference, there is cause for concern in this passage for those who would close their eyes to the plight of their neighbours.

    I wonder why read Scripture at all if we are going to have to play mental gymnastics with everything which does not fit into our particular worldview? Lets just read literature or poetry we like at services and be done with it!



    • “Lets just read literature or poetry we like at services and be done with it!”

      We do. The Bible is full of both. Some of it is good quality too.

      I think I am the only person who can decide what I think is true.

  10. seraph says

    Why choose our readings mostly from the Bible if that is all it is then? I can think of contemporary poets more to my taste than David and plenty of spiritual teachers that would not mention hell at all.

    However, if we read the Bible because it is in some sense to us “The Word of God”, then brushing off what does not make us happy at the moment is probably not a good idea.

    It is correct that you are the only person who can decide what you think is true! It is also very true that what you decide may have no bearing at all on reality. Many people do just that about the world they live in, about their health, about math….but in the end; it is what it is! What we think about it relevant only if true!


  11. seraph says

    This was cute…I can not vouch for its veracity;

    St. John Christotom; “…Hell is paved with the skulls of priests…”

  12. Well, very occasionally we do have readings from contemporary sources – probably not as often as we should do. However, the Bible is something which seems to fascinate Christians and folk in churches like my own read it a lot and wrestle with it a lot.

    Presumably no-one really claims to believe that every word is of equal value to one’s ultimate destiny or current well-being, do they?

    That means we’ve got choices to make and one of the things that seems to interest people about my preaching is that they an hear me making my choices and outining different possibilities.

    I may indeed be deluded. That’s the risk we all take daily.

  13. Steven says

    I looked out Dave Tomlinson’s little book, “Re-enchanting Christianity” and he draws attention to the fact that no less a theologian than Jurgen Moltmann (he of Crucified God fame) rejects the traditional teachings about hell.

    Moltmann is quoted:

    “Judgement establishes in the world the divine righteousness on which the new creation is to be built. But God’s last word is ‘Behold, I make all things new’ (Rev 21.5). From this no one and nothing is excepted. Love is God’s compassion with the lost. Transforming grace is God’s punishment for sinners.”

    Moltmann is neither a theological slouch nor a candy-ass “liberal” – so lets not assume that this kind of thinking must be some vain attempt to make scripture conform to our own thinking.

  14. Thanks Steven – that’s a great quote. Its nice to hear from you again too.

    Mind you, I quite enjoyed the one about the skulls of priests too. I’ll remember that for a General Synod debate about local collaborative ministry sometime.

  15. Greg, I wouldn’t call ensuring that the word in the original language means what you think it does ” minor linguistic details”. It’s somewhat ironic that, in this debate, liberal Kelvin is the one focusing on what the text meant in the original (and questioning rather than e.g. egotistically assuming the spirit in which it was meant to be read) whereas you are the one expounding Calvinist (and, so, ‘man-made’ in a not necessarily pejorative but still inescapable sense) doctrines as some kind of self-evident truth. Many is the time that I’ve heard liberal ‘heretics’ point out that words like gehenna might not accord with the Fire and Brimsone pictures of old. Am still waiting for a sensible response from the other side.

    Jimmy, it sounds like you think that literal Hellfire is convincing because it means that the stakes are higher. This oft-cited or assumed notion always puzzles me. The idea that the Gift of Salvation is somehow insufficient and a God worth worshipping would necessarily have to torture and punish those who reject it appeals to our very worst instincts. One is reminded of those street preachers who, not being up to the task of convincing people of the glories of the Gospel, instead delight in talking of the cruel and unusual punishment that awaits non-believers for not listening to the preacher (and God). It’s not a good thing if,for some, the best that can be said about the Christian life is that it ‘beats being roasted in the lake of fire!’.

  16. Hi Ryan – nice to hear from you.

    I note in passing that its only male voices who have contributed so far and that makes me wonder whether the Christian conversation about hell has been quite a gendered discourse hitherto.

  17. well, I was about to pitch in with: ‘Surely, we need Sartre here’ — but I’m not sure what that does for your theory of gender.

    (and now I’ll withdraw to ponder a hazelnut)

  18. Kelvin,

    I tend to agree, but have a couple of tweaks to add.

    First, “The rich man does not appear to oppress the poor man. Neither does Lazarus beg.”. Two problems with this: the rich man is portrayed as living “ostentatiously” through his sumptuous eating habits. Lazarus “longed to eat”, well, it doesn’t say how loudly he longed or not, but notably, the rich man *does* appear to know Lazarus’s name so he’s obviously meant to have been aware of his predicament in life, and to have ignored it – his inaction is the oppression. It may, therefore, be a “sin of omission” (although I prefer to think of it as a problem of systemic positive selection).

    Second, particularly to the literalists commenting (seraph, Beat Attitude): this parable does not mention God; there is no role for some separate God-being stated or even implied in this text at all. It says “Now the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side”. The rich man’s mode of transit to a state of torment is not described either. So you can just forget any idea of this parable talking about God or judgement, because neither is mentioned. Note, secondly, that Christian tradition is lacking for roles for Abraham in some heaven-place, favouring naming St Peter instead. Note, thirdly, that our scriptures are inconclusive as to the nature of the afterlife: `sheol’ is a place of darkness to which all dead go, whether righteous or not (with no distinction from “heaven”); oblivion. `Hades’, used here in Luke 16:23, has connotations of transience and judgement. Jesus is also reported elsewhere as talking about `Gehenna’, a term which he would have understood to be “a figurative name for the place of spiritual purification for the wicked dead”. So, I see no biblical authority for the view of hell as one term, a unified place to which unrighteous folk go and sizzle forever, because even the folks in and of the time of the bible had no such single concept. Coupled with this, I take Kelvin’s points that the story is a set form[0], using a named figure (Lazarus, also known as Eleazar to the Jews, and a source of myth of his own as well), and putting his own spin on it.

    It might be an idea to link it with the other lectionary reading for today, the one with “money is the root of all kinds of evil” in. It doesn’t say that money is intrinsically evil, nor does Jesus’ parable make it clear that merely being well-fed is wrong. It’s what you do with it: the option is open to use one’s wealth well, getting off one’s butt and actively looking to fix wrongs such as the social dislocation/disparity between Jesus’ two characters.

    [0] We had this pointed out on Sunday up here too; I hadn’t actually been aware of the Egyptian resonances before but welcome the knowledge gladly – and now I read about related Greek influences (Micyllus and Megapenthes) as well…

  19. And you Kelvin!

    Greg :

    >>God does care for the poor, yes, but because he has a sense of justice, and one which transcends the temporal, sociological sphere and extends into eternity

    >>>Is it possible that we, who are sinful and tainted by sin, might be far less capable of deciding what is morally right and wrong than God is? Who has the ultimate authority on what is real and what is not? God or man?

    Interesting. The customary defence of Hell (and, like everyone else here, I’d stress that disagreeing with a particular doctrine in no way means that I don’t understand it) is that God, being Just, must punish wrongdoers. This is usually conveyed by anthropomorphising images (Judge in the courtroom etc) and pleas to the fact that all us right-thinking humans expect wrongdoers to be violently punished. Does that not suggest you are projecting your own views of how the afterlife should be run on God? Am unsure if you’re excusing yourself from the ‘we’ above, and curious about how fallible-human-you interpreting Scripture warrants a Magisterium-type level of authority that Kelvin, or anyone else who disagrees with you, lacks.

    Kimberly – initially I misread that as ‘Surely, we need Satire here’ . Amen! 😉

  20. OK then… I propose that Jesus was using this story just to highlight the foolishness of established mythology. He played on people’s foolish fears of hell, and their hopes for salvation, and told a story about how two people who did not really deserve what they got, got what they didn’t deserve, thus proclaiming that God’s justice is something they shouldn’t even bother trying to understand. Wasn’t Jesus great? Why doesn’t someone take the time to explain to me why that’s an unrealistic interpretation?…

    …Is it consistent with the rest of scripture you might ask? Well, not all scripture seems to discuss hell, and some scriptures are extremely vague, or at least allegorical when it comes to describing God’s wrath. Plus, scripture is merely one source which “seems to fascinate” so many Christians. Why should it be so important to reconcile the meaning with other parts of scripture written by different authors? Plus, other bits of scripture are poetry, so why couldn’t Jesus just have been making an artistic statement that needed no justification, but instead was something that stood on its own, and was intended to become whatever people made of it? We can never know what Jesus was truly thinking, so to try and find reliable meaning from anything he taught or did is futile and arrogant.


    Being fanciful and casting doubt is not the same as establishing/proposing a robust and consistent interpretation. It is a convenience for the excuse-maker, and fuel for the trouble-maker.

  21. Ryan, satire would do too.

    though if our mis-reading moves us to satyrs then we’re terribly at risk of going full circle.

  22. >>>Being fanciful and casting doubt is not the same as establishing/proposing a robust and consistent interpretation.

    Indeed. That being so, perhaps you’d like to address Kelvin’s point about ‘tartarus’, or the fact that Gehenna – if we’re being literal – was a place were things were burned up i.e. destroyed , the frequent use of the term ‘destroyed’ in scripture passages referring to Hell (which I know more supports Annihalationism than Universalism, but it certainly doesn’t support the eternal-conscious-punishment-by-devils-with-pitchforks model) ? Nobody disputes that Hell is mentioned a lot in the Bible. They disagree with your (in fairness, Calvin’s and Mark Driscoll’s) view of it. Surely any evangelical can see the flaw in conflating the divine with the human? Perhaps you could argue for your interpretation rather than assuming it, or appearing to endevour to imbue it with an unearned validity by surrounding it with pseudo-piety? Of course I am not here casting down on your motivations, but accepting the purity of a particular Christian’s motivation in no way means that one should agree with what they said!

    Giving an example of an implausible reading in no way proves that your own readings are intrinsically plausible, let alone Revealed Truth. We are, as yer man George W. Bush once said, all just sinners 🙂

    Also, are you disputing that Luke, however God *inspired* is the ‘author’ of his book? That’s not very Orthodox.

    The Protestant Church has never been big on taking Our Lord literally when He instititutes the Eucharist with the lines ‘this is my blood’; so I think you’d have to concede that evangelical/reformed churches, consciously or otherwise, have always had multiple reading strategies that were used to understand Scripture. It is possible that someone could say something like ‘Ah, but it’s *obvious* Jesus isn’t being literal when he talks about plucking out your eye if it causes you to sin, whereas it’s obvious that he’s being utterly literal about a literal lake of Fire!” . But mere stating of an ‘obvious’ opinion – however frequently reiterated – in no way makes it true. Doesn’t Scripture challenge us to break down (and rebuild) such assumptions?

  23. Steven says

    Thanks for the welcome back! To paraphrase a fellow Irish man, I hadn’t gone away you know. I’m actually exploring vocation/ordination into the CofI at the moment so say a wee prayer for me. The priests/skulls comment was particularly helpful in that context.

  24. Ryan, even though you are being obtuse… rather than citing Driscoll and Calvin who are constantly meeting with your disdain, I’ll go straight to St Paul, St Silas, St Timothy, and one example.

    “All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.”

    Now I know this verse doesn’t disprove annihilationism outright, but held together with other verses about the enduring nature of hell, spoken by Jesus and also St John make it more doubtful that hell did not exist. Perhaps, since hell seems so unreasonable to you, you are demanding unreasonable evidence before you would believe in it?

    In Matthew 5/Mark 9 Jesus wasn’t telling to people to maim themselves in order to be saved, but he was telling them that the reality of hell was even more shocking than losing a hand or an eye. The reason we think he wasn’t telling people to maim themselves is because none of his other teaching suggested that parts of our bodies could actually cause us to sin. His teaching was designed to make us aware of those things in our lives, which, if we remain attached to them, will cause us to end up in hell.

    • I think I’m fairly confident that Paul and I would disagree about this and about some other things, were we to meet. I also think we would enjoy talking about it.

      Of course, there are those who are not so confident that it was Paul’s own hand which wrote 2 Thessalonions. If not, it could well have been written by someone very keen on belief in eternal punishment who took the totalitarian view (ie that all Christians must believe in such a doctrine) and was determined to pass off this text as Paul’s own for that very purpose.

      That’s both the trouble with scripture and also what makes it exciting to study – its so interesting.

      BTW, if its hands and eyes that cause someone to lose Salvation, I presume you are now making a case, Beat, that Jesus himself believed that works are what salvation depends on rather than faith or relationship with God/Jesus. Its a case that can be made from scripture, and you are doing rather well at it. All the same, I remain unconvinced.

  25. The point about Calvin isn’t obtuse. Calvinism and only Calvinism certainly doesn’t equal Orthodoxy, let alone the numerous poisonous absurdities of Driscoll. I cited them for a reason. If we’re identifying the ‘heretics’ from a position of ‘Orthodoxy’ then it’s important to ensure that, in fact, our foundations aren’t built on sand…

    >>Perhaps, since hell seems so unreasonable to you, you are demanding unreasonable evidence before you would believe in it?

    No. With all love and due respect Greg, only one person in this thread is leaving themselves open to the perception of being unreasonable – I note that, yet again, you’ve ignored Kelvin’s point about tartarus, just as

    ”Thanks for the clarification of what you think about the parable though. The rich man in your interpretation could have been saved by what? Works or thoughts?”

    still awaits a response.

    You’ll appreciate than anyone can cut and paste Holy Scripture or religiose boilerplate, but that’s not the same thing as offering a convincing argument. You’ll see where I sent that Hell is mentioned in Scripture but it might not accord with your firm and brimstone image? You haven’t addressed that point. I know from my experience in housegroups and the like that many evangelicals do not, in fact, believe in Hell in the sense of eternal conscious fiery punishment (and one could cite the conservative C of E’s ‘Mystery of Salvation’ document in this context). The passage you cite not alone does not ‘disprove annihalationism’ – it hardly ‘proves’ your model of Hell. I said myself that Hell is of course frequently mentioned in scripture. You reiterating this does nothing to support your particular image of Hellfire. Does ”
    punished with everlasting DESTRUCTION” (emphasis mine) *really* suggest ‘eternal conscious punishment’ rather than actual, er, destruction?

    >>The reason we think he wasn’t telling people to maim themselves is because none of his other teaching suggested that parts of our bodies could actually cause us to sin.

    Really? The history of , say, self-mortification in the Church, especially in monasticism in the like, doesn’t owe much to seemingly commonsensical interpretations of Jesus’ words?

  26. Kelvin, I’m not really sure how you’re inferring that I’m advocating the principle of salvation by works. People are saved by the substitutionary atonement of Christ, and by their willingness to put their faith in that for salvation. Faith itself cannot save us, only faith in the thing which has the power to save us, because that is faith which is vouchsafed by God.

    So the question about “the rich man could have been saved by what? Works or thoughts?” is strange to me. He could have been saved by recognising and repenting of his own sin and recognising his utter dependence on God for his salvation. But were that to happen, he would only have *been* saved because God’s grace allows for repentant sinners to be forgiven and their sin atoned for by Christ. Therefore it would have been neither salvation by works or thoughts, but by Christ. Faith itself is not the thing which *achieves* salvation, merely the conduit through which righteousness is credited to the believer.

    Therefore, if Christ taught that certain things could cause people to end up in hell, he was performing a similar function as the law: that is, to identify and condemn sin. People first needed to know their sin is what condemns them. To be unwilling to let go of sin is a sign that you put your faith in sin to provide what you need. Thus, Jesus’ call for us to repent of sin is a crucial part of our ability to have faith in him. Any other course is self-delusion.

    I don’t know enough about gehenna and tartarus to offer any big insight. But I know that the translators of the bible are trustworthy and give us a fair starting point. My point was that this was not an issue of linguistics.

    Ryan, the church’s understanding of the nature of the “flesh” has been subject to a number of extreme interpretations. In defending what I regard as orthodoxy I don’t intend to systematically counter every possible interpretation that I don’t think is the right one. You are clutching at straws here again.

    • Ah, I see. Of course. The rich man (who is a character in a story anyway) could only possibly be saved by believing exactly the things you believe, Beat.

      Worth noting linguistically that the Evangelical translators of the NIV offer us “hell” as a translation of “Hades”. Other translators don’t.

  27. >>Ryan, the church’s understanding of the nature of the “flesh” has been subject to a number of extreme interpretations. In defending what I regard as orthodoxy I don’t intend to systematically counter every possible interpretation that I don’t think is the right one. You are clutching at straws here again

    No, you are overtly claiming (or at least proceeding from the assumption) that there is One True Obvious Interpretation and I’m pointing to actual historical fact that indicates that you are, characteristically, wrong. Perhaps , given that the H.C.F. is bigger than both of us,you could acknowledge the distinction between ‘Orthodoxy’ and your particular theological opinions that you assume to be true? One can imagine your reactionary verbosity if a ‘liberal’ on this thread had put great store by hardly-objective ‘what I regard as orthodoxy’.

    Assuming, as I tend to do, that you’re genuinely interested in respectful dialogue, it might be worth going back and looking at the questions that you’ve ducked (again).

  28. agatha says

    Anyone going to offer an opinion on how many angels can fit onto the head of a pin anytime soon?

  29. Greg, I know that the Reformers weren’t fans of asceticism (what a worldly attitude!) but I’m genuinely curious whether you’ll concede that e.g. Col 1:24 and many words of Our Lord very much do literally point towards literal fasting and literal mortification of the flesh, that relates clearly to one of the (many) unanswered points above? I’m sure that John Piper or Mark Driscoll have some entertainingly dotty spins on-cum explanations of such verses, but that’s all they are.

    As for trusting the translators (all of them? even when they come up with meanings at odd with other translations? how does that work?).., them using the word ‘Hell’ doesn’t prove that ‘Hell’ denotes what *you personally* regard it to be, surely? Your denunciation of ‘linguistics’ (the Bible isn’t written in language? Its language – despite being the Word of God – doesn’t warrrant the acknowledging of complexity that we’d give to any half decent play or novel?) – is curious. Assuming that words mean what you want them to mean is a bit weirdly ‘postmodern’. Someone in earlier centuries would have assumed that ‘Hell’ meant that picture of the faithful getting to enjoy looking at the tortured evildoers in the underworld – such a picture is hardly innate in the text. It’s amusing when Revelation is cited as a Hell-fire proof text. See how far you can get into the book treating (consistently) all its imagery as literal.

  30. Perhaps, in the afterlife, there are opportunities for ‘guess how angels are on the head of this pin’ type japes? 🙂

  31. To paraphrase Dave Allen making mock of Mr Paisley, angels and pins will be provided.

  32. Kelvin wrote:

    Ah, I see. Of course. The rich man (who is a character in a story anyway) could only possibly be saved by believing exactly the things you believe, Beat.

    Worth noting linguistically that the Evangelical translators of the NIV offer us “hell” as a translation of “Hades”. Other translators don’t.

    Beat writes:

    First of all, that’s a reduction of what I said. Of course we’re working in the hypothetical realm here. Why would you mention that as though I didn’t know the rich man is only a character from a story?

    You’re proposing that I have read a passage, ignored its obvious meaning, and instead insisted that its meaning be in line with what I want to believe. The implication is that I want “what I have been taught” to be right, and I have allowed this desire to skew my judgement. I’m not immune to that, I admit. But that is also what I think you are doing, and of course you are just as susceptible. Relativism is no inoculation from this. Detachment in these circumstances is not an option, therefore when there are two different opinions, the non-detachment issue cancels itself out. The point is to demonstrate *how* a person reveals their position is founded more on a reasonable interpretation of the facts than on their desire to be right.

    If we both have conflicting interpretations of the passage, they cannot *both* be right. They *could* both be wrong. However, can we agree that to propose that no true answer can be gleaned from the passage is arrogance of another level, because the proposer of *this* statement assumes they have a superior view of the issue…which usually turns out to be nothing more than a “once-removed” perspective, worth less than either of the primary perspectives. This is the arrogance of relativism. I cannot engage a relativist in an argument, except perhaps about relativism.(and even then, only relatively…)

    So what is left in our conversation are two interpretations of a passage. Yours, which denies that the passage supports in any way the prospect of the reality of an enduring, painful hell for the sinner, and mine, which asserts the contrary. (I realise that neither of these are the primary assertions. We would both agree that social justice, caring for the poor etc… are affirmed as worthwhile and “good” by the passage.)

    I am proposing that some of your arguments are akin to the great Sir Humphrey Appleby in “The Greasy Pole” (text below). He is explaining to the Minister ways in which he can discredit a report he doesn’t like.

    My problem with your initial sermon came from your openly subjective tone. “That’s not the kind of religion that does anything for me”. This suggests to me that your religion is about what it “does for you”, rather than about what is objectively true or right. This is reinforced in your subsequent post when you say:
    “I’m happy to help people to find that if that’s what they are looking for. ” So your main aim is really to accommodate those people who are willing to believe things that you approve of. Is that not just building a club?

    So when you respond in a way that suggests that I’m just believing what I want to believe allow me to assert a few things
    1. I desire to submit to biblical authority in all matters, even though this often requires discomfort and sacrifice when my own beliefs and desires contradict what I believe the bible teaches.

    2. I struggle regularly to conform my “worldly” view of reality with the one proposed by scripture.

    3. I do this because I have learned to trust God’s word as having authority and power to transform my life as a Christian, consistent with the bible’s own teaching in this regard. I have experienced the great blessing of submission, contrary to “common sense” teaching.

    Therefore, between the two of us, it could be argued that I am less likely to believe merely what I want, because I express a willingness to be proved wrong by scripture, but you demonstrate a willingness for scripture to be proved wrong by your opinion.

    Now I concede that even in this circumstance I am still inclined to try to bend scripture to my own outlook, thus getting a godly stamp of approval without having to undergo the pain of obedience or submission. But to take hold of God’s grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ means that I am enabled and encouraged *not* to do that. Because I know that I no longer have to cover up my sin, I am more prepared to confess it and have my priorities changed. I learn to allow God’s grace to meet my every need.

    If you wish to propose an interpretation of a biblical passage which may be contrary to straightforward reading (and all scripture requires interpretation to some degree) then you must assert bases beyond your own personal preference. Otherwise, this places man’s own moral standpoint (which the bible says is flawed) as something of equal value to the teaching of scripture (which the bible asserts is the word of God). It is not sufficient to highlight flimsy workarounds when the subject matter is so important. This is a serious health and safety risk!

    I take no pleasure in the prospect of Hell. I understand how “hellfire” preaching serves to turn more people off Christianity than attracts them. I take no perverse pleasure in thinking about how exclusive this teaching makes my little evangelical club. Yet I am entirely unwilling to ignore it, because that would be to deny what I believe to be true.

    With regard to translations. I understand that gehenna and sheol and hell and hades have different meanings. The place described by Jesus in this parable, whatever name he gave it, was a perpetual place of suffering and torment. The rest of the story provides that detail, which limits the value of speculation in this instance to a purely academic level.

    Ryan, I can’t help but think you willfully misunderstand virtually everything I say. For the record, I appreciate that different translators will offer different readings of the text. I appreciate the importance of even small words having crucial meaning in many instances. I also know that huge ideas hinge on certain single words, and not on others (as Kelvin alluded to earlier). I’m proposing that in this case, the gehenna issue is in the latter camp. It is not the hinge of the issue.

    Eventually Ryan, I think you will need to start asserting what you DO believe, not just attempting to discredit what others believe. If you’re not prepared to build, but only deconstruct with “says you”, straw men, wilfull misinterpretation and scattergun doubt-casting, then you may eventually find that your only achievements will have been attempts to make nothing out of something.

    Thanks once again Kelvin for letting me post my responses to your sermon. If I have been personally disrespectful at any point, or for any lack of clarity (and brevity!) I ask forgiveness. Work commitments mean I can not continue this indefinitely, but I will welcome any further comment, and end my contributions with the incisive words of Sir Humpy.


    “How to discredit an unwelcome report:

    Stage One: Refuse to publish in the public interest saying
    1. There are security considerations.
    2. The findings could be misinterpreted.
    3. You are waiting for the results of a wider and more detailed report which is still in preparation. (If there isn’t one, commission it; this gives you even more time).

    Stage Two: Discredit the evidence you are not publishing, saying
    1. It leaves important questions unanswered.
    2. Much of the evidence is inconclusive.
    3. The figures are open to other interpretations.
    4. Certain findings are contradictory.
    5. Some of the main conclusions have been questioned. (If they haven’t, question them yourself; then they have).

    Stage Three: Undermine the recommendations. Suggested phrases:
    1. ‘Not really a basis for long term decisions’.
    2. ‘Not sufficient information on which to base a valid assessment’.
    3. ‘No reason for any fundamental rethink of existing policy’.
    4. ‘Broadly speaking, it endorses current practice’.

    Stage Four: Discredit the person who produced the report. Explain (off the record) that
    1. He is harbouring a grudge against the Department.
    2. He is a publicity seeker.
    3. He is trying to get a Knighthood/Chair/Vice Chancellorship.
    4. He used to be a consultant to a multinational.
    5. He wants to be a consultant to a multinational.”

    • Beat. You appear to be saying again and again that a reading of this passage which you think is the obvious meaning must be right and is a reading which all Christians must necessarily accept. No?

      I don’t make such a claim myself. Neither about my reading of it nor anyone else’s.

  33. The angels on pins expression always seemed strange to me. I can conceive of Tinkerbells type *fairies* fitting on the ends of pins, but Angels, surely, have always been pictured as human baby size at the very smallest? Wonder what the Sola Scriptura approach to this issue is. Maybe the pins of the Lord are the size of seven human ones 🙂

  34. The equation of (universal) irresistible grace
    would have to include:
    no fall from innocence
    no evil in the world
    no necessity for the substituted Judgement of Christ
    no call to repentance and faith.

    The same control that (supposedly) imposes fellowship with God
    upon and against the will of life-long unrepentant God haters
    would also have been in effect denying mankind
    the will to originally break fellowship with God.

    The resolution of the Judgement of God is infinite
    and echoes out to us from the cross in these words:
    “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani”
    Anyone who thinks God who turned his back on Christ on the cross
    will not turn his back on people is in need of a wake up call.

    This also raises the question:
    What kind of a people is God making for himself?
    A people who have said “Yes you are my God”
    Or a people God has spiritually lobotomized.

  35. Rosemary Hannah says

    You know, it never occurred to me that anybody would run with such a literalistic reading of the passage.

    To me the interesting questions are: what does it take to get a person believing in the teaching of the Prophets? (Answer: obviously a lot more than the teaching of the Prophets, since the rich man had them and ignored them)

    Should we believe (as a strand of the Bible does) that God had blessed the rich man because he was good? Are riches given to those God favours (answer, no, Jesus thinks this is bosh)

    To me this is not a teaching ‘be prepared for Hell it really is there’ – it is a teaching ‘sheesh, get believing, get giving, you’ve HAD all the teaching you could POSSIBLY need! Oh, and stop thinking you are something special because you have money – if you want God’s opinion of THAT just look at some of the people he give it to!’

    I think it is naive to imagine Jesus was so literalistic that he expected high-blown stories taken literally – and not very complimentary to the Apostles to assume that that was how they understood Him.

    To assume that Jesus was in desperate earnest (and I do) and terribly urgent (I do) is not to assume that he was deadeningly literal.

  36. >>>Eventually Ryan, I think you will need to start asserting what you DO believe, not just attempting to discredit what others believe. If you’re not prepared to
    build, but only deconstruct with “says
    you”, straw men

    Firstly, you showed up to ”discredit” what Kelvin believes about Hell. Which is of course fine, so it’s odd that you enter into ‘debate’ assuming that any attempts to criticise your peculiar beliefs are an attack. They’re not.

    Greg, it’s not a straw man if you actually believe it. As for what I believe – I’m pefectly orthodox, and I’ve talked of specifics on many occasion. Although, to riot in understatement, I’m not exactly shocked that you didn’t bother to listen.

    Is Calvinism a straw man or what you yourself have said, repeatedly, is the one true/most real form of Christianity? And I’ll happily talk about what I believe and defend it at length. How said that you seem incapable of doing this, and instead cast aspersions on Kelvin’s motivations. If you were a Roman Catholic then I would not of course accuse you of holding Calvinist beliefs – and if I did so unwittingly, characterising their beliefs on what they say, then I would apologise. The fact that you really regard Orthodoxy as the sort of thing voiced by Driscoll or (at best!) Calvin is a large part of the problem. Wilful anti-intellectualism can only take you so far, and I note that Kelvin has been making entirely commonsencial points, not making radical Chomsky-esque statements that can only be understood in Academia. I realise that you’re not used to environments that require grown-up debate, and that , in the thread relating to +Gene Robinson’s visit, you swiftly took your ball and ran away home when people challenged your wacky analogies and uncritical conflation of religous right dogma with orthodoxy. That said, cutting and pasting from Yes, Minister is at least (deliberately) entertaining.

  37. >>>ignored its obvious meaning, and instead insisted that its meaning be in line with what I want to believe

    Greg, assuming that a meaning that seems obvious *to you* is necessarily the correct one is arrogance, not humility.

  38. B –
    I was going to provide a list of all the points you’ve ignored but time, frankly, does not permit. It would, in all seriousness, be a lot quicker to cite messages that you haven’t wilfully ignored. Which is a shame. I’m sure you don’t want to give the impression that you’re ignoring what people say in favour of typing whatever vaguely Alpha-esque sentiments springs randomly to mind.

    I realise that I should also have provided one, exhaustive reply but there are, as I’m sure you’d agree, only so many hours in the day!


    >>>>The place described by Jesus in this parable, whatever name he gave it, was a perpetual place of suffering and torment.

    Passages have been cited that support annihalationism. That you’ve ignored. Your logic would appear to be :
    this passage shows that Jesus views Hell as a place of eternal conscious punishment. Therefore passages that suggest annihalationism must have a different meaning

    It makes *just as much sense* to say:
    These passages strongly suggest annihalationism. Therefore passages that suggest eternal conscious punishment must have a different meaning.

    Such a methodoloy is, of course, absurd but (alas!) that does not make it a strawman. (of course this wouldn’t be true if you cited more widely the textual witness to your vision of Hell but you’ve not done that ;preferring, instead, a resounding testimony to your fine moral qualities and serious love of God and the Bible which all us non-Hellfire types so sorely lack) Not only that, but you ignored my pointing out of the parts of Scripture that *you yourself cherry-picked and quoted* that dont’ support your interpretation! Does ‘destroy’ mean something else when someone like me quotes it (even the Devil can quote scripture, eh?) in much the same way that ‘Hell’ seems, at all times, in all cases, and irrespective of the original word that it is being used in place of (!), must fit your image of medieval Fire-and-Brimstone torture chamber?

    Even the crudest prooftexter knows to contextualise and, frankly, I’m boggled by the idea that whether Our Lord used the word hades, gehenna or something else doesn’t especially matter because the more evangelical translations establish that Hellfire must be being talked about! How is you picking a translation that best fits your presuppositions not, in fact, doing the very same self-aggrandising misreading that you accuse Kelvin of?

    The Yes, Minister citing does remind me of the time when you said that ‘liberals’ remind you of the baddies in Pilgrims Progress. In the cold light of day this, perhaps, is not the smackdown denunciation of liberal theology that you thought it was.

    Amongst the many,many, points you’ve chosen to ignore, it’s worth reiterating that there are , in fact, different readings than yours or Kelvins. I’m an annihalationist, not a universalist. And I did mention – as I do again – that many evangelicals (including those of our mutual acqaintance) very much do not believe in ‘Hell’ in the sense of eternal conscious punishment. And , given your adherence to evangelical culture and party lines that is surely better owed to God, presumably you wouldn’t want to slander their motivations and attitude to Holy Scripture like you have with Kelvin’s?

  39. (I know it’s a Saturday, B, but if you post things then it’s only good manners to read them, take them seriously, and deign to reply!)

    You had a pop at Kelvin with the following

    >>>“I’m happy to help people to find that if that’s what they are looking for. ” So your main aim is really to accommodate those people who are willing to believe things that you approve of. Is that not just building a club?

    And yet you say that ” In defending what I regard as orthodoxy I don’t intend to systematically counter every possible interpretation that I don’t think is the right one”. Presumably you’d be ok with telling a liberal type not to go to St.Silas, yet Kelvin is , what, supposed to try and get everyone ( including, say, Roman Catholics who regard debates like this as yet-more proof of the need for the Magisterium?) to believe what he believes about Hell? Do you make a point of rebuking mere Lutharans or those non-salva-gratia Catholic types en route to their respective Churches? If someone asked you for directions to the nearest Catholic Church would you google-maps an evangelical church instead? The fact that a Calvinist fundamentalist like yourself is a member of church in The Scottish Episcopal Church, rather than a more obvious ideological home like ,say, the Zion Baptist Church or the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster suggests ,surely, that it takes all sorts? (or hypocrisy, but I try and think the best about people)

    Also – as a good Sola Scriptura type, you might want to think about the balance of your posts. I say this in all love. It feels like they consist of – at best – one part scriptural quotation or commentary on same, to five parts wackadoo analogies, to ten parts egotistical bombast. Yet you condemn those who use *in my opinion* or *I think* type qualifiers which are, surely, just good manners. Look at your message on the 30th September that, ignoring (again) the points people have been making in the interests of serious and respectful dialogue, you start up (c.f. ‘1. I desire to ‘) with the sort of thing more suited to AA or the rotary club (and that’s aside from the horrendously patronising implication that you’re somehow unique in taking God and the Bible seriously). Very little of what you type suggests any engagement with anything other people say, although your posts do serve up plenty of info for any prospective chronicler of The Sacred Story of G.D.B.

    I do hope you can see the irony of your Yes, Minister quotation. You ignore, repeatedly, points people make in favour of windy misdirection – and, as justification, post some humour that makes fun of people who,er, engage in misdirection! And my citing of Driscoll, Calvin etc is hardly insulting – although , needless to say, I’m of course delighted if you’ve decided to repent of your love of US fundamentalism. It’s important to know where people are coming from. Contrast that with you assuming that Kelvin created some unique and cosily heretical doctrine of Hell out of (what?) wilful perversity (Kelvin did of course mention saints from the past that he is in line with but you ignored that like you ignored pretty much everything else).

    It’s great when blogs can spark lots of responses on important issues, so thanks to Kelvin for hosting this and for such a gracious,speedy and dialogue-conducive moderation policy! 🙂


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