Unpersuasive but Irenic: A (Thankful) Response to Terrance Tiessen

I was recently told that Dr. Terrance Tiessen, professor emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Providence Theological Seminary, once indicated that he was nearly convinced of conditional immortality, but not quite. Two years having passed since then, I wondered if perhaps Dr. Tiessen had become fully persuaded, and so I emailed him. Although he responded saying he remains persuaded of the traditional view of hell, his response was gracious and respectful, and what he wrote in a blog post shortly thereafter is deserving of not only a response but equally our thanks.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Judgment Day!

The church that I grew up in didn’t celebrate the season of Advent.  For most of my life, I only understood the term “advent” in terms of some sort of countdown calendar to Christmas Day that involved a small sweet treat that would tide me over until the deluge of presents and candy began.  It was not until I became part of a more liturgical church which celebrated the Christian year that I finally discovered that the season of Advent focused on celebrating our anticipation of Christ’s coming.  But the strangest part of all was that we were celebrating not only his first coming, as little baby Jesus/God incarnate who would be the savior of humankind, but also his SECOND coming, as the righteous judge and rightful ruler over all humanity.

I remember being shocked and almost appalled at this eschatological intrusion into the time of year when we were supposed to be recounting the timeless details of the classic Christmas story and singing carols about mangers and wise men.  So it was even more disconcerting when our Director of Worship pointed out to me that the song, “Joy to the World” was actually a carol celebrating the second coming of Jesus to reign on earth!  I thought, what has Bethlehem to do with Armageddon?  Where does the judgment day fit in to the nativity scene? Continue reading “Merry Christmas and Happy Judgment Day!”