Episode 68: Hell, Anabaptists, and the Love of God, with Bruxy Cavey

In celebration of Canada Day, Rethinking Hell contributor Graham Ware interviews fellow Canuck, Bruxy Cavey, author of The End of Religion. Together they discuss hell, Anabaptists, and the love of God—not to mention beards, dance parties, the urban Amish, and more.

Links

The Meeting House, where Bruxy pastors
http://www.themeetinghouse.com/
Bruxy’s sermon, “Beyond the Grave – Hell”
http://www.themeetinghouse.com/pageid/1716/hell-4693
Bruxy’s book, The End of Religion: Encountering the Subversive Spirituality of Jesus
http://www.amazon.ca/The-End-Religion-Encountering-Spirituality/dp/1600060676
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  • John Anthony Virgilio

    While agreeing with much of Bruxy’s comments I noticed something that didn’t sit well.
    At one point he paraphrases Paul explaining the unknown god saying, “You worship the unknown god. Wow, so do I. You call him Zeus. We call Him Yahweh.”
    The problem is Paul doesn’t name any god, but merely works off the unkown god. By naming a false god you bring along it’s identity with its falsehoods. Imagine saying Allah is actually Yahweh and all the problems that would cause. No; Allah is a false god.
    I hope this was a simple mistake and not an indication of inclusivism.

    • Percival

      You’re right that the god was not named, so Bruxy should not have assumed it was Zeus. (If that is what he did — I haven’t listened to it yet.) Who was this unknown god? In one sense he did not exist, but in another sense, he was a psycho-social reality. What I’ve heard is that this label was a pagan way of just covering their bases. However, Paul does not take the rhetorical path we would expect. Paul says that it IS this same god that he is proclaiming. He does not say it’s a similar god or a god who shares the attribute of being somehow transcendent. In fact this god has no attributes at all. He takes this rhetorical step to build bridges — something most American Christians are not willing to do these days.

      On the other hand, Islamic “Allah” does have attributes. Creator of all things. All-Powerful. All-Knowing. Transcendent. Spirit. Ruler. Righteous Judge. Merciful and Forgiving. In some ways, Muslims are mistaken about Allah’s character, but then so are many people in churches. Our names for God are human labels for an unchanging reality. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “You (plural) worship what you do not know.” He did not say that she and her people worshipped a different god. (That would be polytheistic since there actually is only one god. This talk of having different gods or “false gods” is modern psychological shorthand for having different conceptions of God, as if the religion created the god.)

      I’m sorry if this comes off as a rant, but I worship and pray to Allah when I am in Arabic church. (In English I am willing to adopt the old pagan term of “God/Gott.) Arab Christians have been using this name of Allah for YHWH while our ancestors were worshipping trees and the “Gross Gott” (think Great Spirit). In addition, since Jesus spoke Aramaic he pronounced God’s name very similarly to the way Arabs say Allah. so I feel I’m in good company that way. ;)

    • Graham Ware

      Allah is not actually a name as such, but simply the Arabic equivalent of El, simply meaning God. It is used by Arabic speaking Christians in the worship of YHWH. If you ask an Arabic Christian if Allah is YHWH, they would say yes (and yes, I have had that conversation with Arabic speaking Christian friends of mine, and even with a Muslim cleric). Muslims have always claimed to worship the God of Abraham, just as Jews and Christians do. They may attribute things to YHWH which Christians do not, but that does not make Allah a false god. Perhaps we can say a misunderstood or improperly presented description of the true and living God, but not a completely other deity.

  • Daniel Hodges

    He said that he believes the same about the end of the unsaved as the athiests but I disagree. The atheist believes that you live, you die and you cease to exist. The bible is full of texts about judgement and justice. If the atheist is right he can live a comfortable and happy life while committing horrendous crimes like child abuse or rape and die a comfortable death without anybody knowing about his sins. There is no justice. If Conditionalists are right however, the wicked die, are resurrected to judgement and die eternally. Justice is not escaped but dealt with, the wicked do not live without accountability but eventually have to face God. It is important that we don’t use hell as a motivator for repentance as he said but it is also important that we don’t minimalize it to just being natural death. It is true that the bible says that the punishment fro sin is death, but it is also true that it says that people will be judged according to their works and that there are different degrees of punishment depending on how a person has lived (see Matthew 11:22) As someone relatively new to both conditional immortality and the anabaptist church (of which I am a part) I was hoping to hear more about anabaptist history in relation to the doctrine of hell but it was mostly about Bruxy Cavey. It was a good episode and Bruxy Cavey seemed like an interesting fellow but It wasn’t as in depth as I would have liked.

    • Graham Ware

      You are correct that conditionalists do affirm the resurrection of all people; those in Christ being raised to immortality/eternal life, and those not declared righteous to “eternal punishment” (Mt. 25:46). But since the eternal punishment is the second death, the ultimate fate in one very real sense the same for both the conditionalist and the atheist- we affirm that the final state is nonbeing/death. As for the level of depth- it is not at all meant to be comprehensive, and the main thrust was intended to be on evangelism, preaching, and the ministry of the church- two pastors talking about how we unpack the doctrine of hell for our congregants, and how/if we include discussion of hell in our sharing of the Gospel with people outside the Church. Perhaps we could have a second interview with Bruxy in the future to dig into anabaptist history. Or you could request a copy of Greg Stump’s paper on early anabpatists and the doctrine of hell. He’s a pretty friendly dude, and probably willing to send you a copy (he sent me one- it’s pretty good).

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