Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Dancing Street Light

For some reason there were not any light poles as we know them today. In those days of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, to illuminate the streets of the small rural town, lights were stretched across the streets; wires would go from a pole on one side of the street to another pole directly across the street and the street light would dangle there suspended in the middle, the metal fixture including a shade that directed the light from the incandescent bulbs downward, illuminating the street and immediate adjacent sidewalks and lawns.

It was the end of October, the Halloween time of the year. The local fire department had put on their annual Halloween party for the kids of the area; bobbing for apples, the “haunted house”, and we in our varied Halloween costumes. Along with the fire department festivities we also did the usual trick or treating; a time to fill the sack with candy, popcorn balls, cookies, and other goodies. This was a whole generation before sick psychos used Halloween trick or treating to intentionally put harmful things in the treats handed out on Halloween. That year was going to be my last year of trick or treating. The general rule of thumb was once you were in junior high, your trick or treating days were over. So it was I headed out from the school were the firemen's Halloween party was held, to hit the town and pick up a few treats.

The first street of houses I worked that particular night was a cul-de-sac running off of the main street. At the corner of the main street and the cul-de-sac was a street light stretched across the main street as previously described. I had hit all the houses on the cul-de-sac and was ready to head back to the main street. There were was a good steady wind blowing, and I was struck with how the street light was swaying back and forth, dancing in the wind. It was there that a sort of magic took hold of my imagination.

Oddly enough the sense was not a foreboding fear of some evil supernatural apparition coming to life an All Hallows Eve. It was more a sense of being alone in a deserted place. There was no traffic on the street. There was just the street light dancing in the wind. For those few brief moments the only living things in that town were myself and that dancing street light. In those moments, the image of that dancing street light was forever indelibly imprinted on my mind and in my memory.

In the years that followed I would from time to time come across a few literary descriptions that reminded me of that image.

In Ray Bradbury’s “Martian Chronicles” the point comes toward the end of the book were all the Earth people who settled on Mars are called back to Earth at the outbreak of war. The Earth colonies and settlements on Mars are abandoned, but a few people are left behind; left behind to wander over the surface of Mars from deserted town to deserted town living out the rest of their lives alone. In that narrative the image of the dancing street light comes to my mind.

I sat in the theater as the movie; “To Kill a Mockingbird” was nearing its end. The fall harvest festival at the local school is over, and Scout and Jem are about to walk home and into the dramatic climax of the whole story. It is night and we see the street lights of that small rural town through the eyes of Scout as she peers through the eyes of her ham costume. In that image, I see the dancing street light of my youth.

Over fifty years later as the fall of the year comes around and the leaves on the trees are changing color, and the corn is ripe for the picking, and the days grow colder, I think back to that autumn night so long, long ago when the street light danced, sparking the imagination and stirring the feelings; one of those magical moments that stay with you for a life time; those moments in life that give hints of stories to be told, other worlds to be discovered, and adventures yet to come.

~ The Billy Goat ~

Monday, October 13, 2014

Questions Regarding Annihilationism

The doctrine of annihilationism says basically that the damned in hell do not suffer forever but at some point simply cease to exist. A lot is being said in the Evangelical church at large about the teaching of annihlationism, both pro and con. Dr. Mike Wittmer recently addressed that phenomena in a blog article you can find here, as well as a link to the "Rethinking Hell" web site. I will leave you to read the Dr. Wittmer's article where he sets forth a few of his objections to the annihilationist argument. For myself, two questions come to mind and those questoins are the focus of this post.

The first question: Will God annihilate those created in His own image?

"God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." ~ Genesis 1:27

“Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man." ~ Genesis 9:6

My argument here is that if God annihilates those created in His own image, then the enemy, the devil Satan, wins. He has to some degree accomplished what he set out to do in the temptation in the Garden. The reason for making that assertion is found in the second question below. Are we going to say Christ did not gain total victory over death, Satan, and hell? May it never be!

The second question: Was Jesus Christ annihilated on the cross for my sins?

If Jesus Christ was not annihilated for my sins, but the end of the unrepentant sinner is annihilation, then my sins are not fully covered by the work of Christ on the cross on behalf of guilty sinners. In my mind by the mere fact of asking that question, a stake is driven into the heart of the error of annihilationism. Jesus Christ was not annihilated, but rose again from the dead, conquering death and hell, and is ascended and now seated at the right hand of God the Father.

To sum up, exegetical questions about the Biblical passages on hell and the damnation of the unrepentant of necessity need to be answered in a way that does not diminish the importance of the clearly taught doctrines of man being created in God's image, and the full and complete victorious work of Jesus Christ on the cross on behalf of a fallen and sinful humanity. Intended or not, annihilationism diminishes both, and is thus found wanting.

~ The Billy Goat ~