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The purpose of this assignment is not to summarize the book’s content.

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Letters from a Skeptic contains a personal dialogue between a father and son about Christian faith. The purpose of this assignment is to relate these correspondences to your own journey of faith.

In his preface, Boyd states that one goal of the book is to “dispel [the] myth” that “rational obstacles to the faith that unbelievers have are disingenuous and that believers have no responsibility for knowing and sharing the rational foundation of the faith they hold” (10). To that end, this assignment will require you to think critically about your faith, insofar as the letters themselves reflect this kind of activity.

At the same time, the letters preserve a very personal dialogue about Christian faith. To that end, this assignment is primarily about your personal and engaged reflection on the letters, rather than your dispassionate analysis.

So, here is what you should write: Choose two correspondences (the table of contents will help you identify a complete “correspondence.” You may NOT select Correspondence 4). For each correspondence, consider the following:

1-Label the section with the appropriate Correspondence Number and restate the topic directly from the book. For instance: Correspondence 13: Why trust the Gospel account?
2-Why did you choose this correspondence? Why is the question/issue important to you? In what contexts have you been confronted with this same question in your own life? (100-150 words)
3-Prior to reading Gregory Boyd’s answer to the question, what responses had you heard people give to this question/issue? (100-150 words)
4-Is the response that Boyd offers to his father convincing to you? Why, or why not? Evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. (150-200 words)
5-How does it benefit the Christian believer to have an answer to this question? What concrete implications does this question/issue have for daily Christian living? (100-150 words)
How should I write?
Respond to the five correspondence questions (above) in a Word document.

Responses should be logical, grammatically accurate and use correct spelling and sentence structure. Responses should demonstrate the “lucid brevity” that is the hallmark of good academic writing.

How long should my responses be?
The five correspondence questions (above) specify the length of each response (by word count).

Letters from a skeptic reflection

 

  1. Correspondence 24: Do all non-Christians go to hell?

 

  1. I chose this question because I think this question is something most Christians struggle with. While I was reading this correspondence I was very interested to see how Dr. Boyd answered this question. I think this is a difficult subject to address and only God can determine a person’s outcome after they die. Edward Boyd writes, “how can you go to hell by the accident of where he happened to be born?” I have often thought about this question in my own personal walk with Christ. It seems unfair to me that children who die tragically and have never experienced the love of Christ could somehow go to hell. Or children who are too young to understand the concept of Christ or what it means to have a relationship with him could go to hell. This is such a difficult subject for me to grasp. I have had conversations with other Christians about this topic and it is never an easy one to discuss.

 

  1. Prior to reading Gregory Boyd’s answer to the question, I have had this previous conversation in my bible class my senior year of high school. I have heard many different responses and was never sure which one was correct. I was taught that children fall under the grace of God, they learn from their parents and what they have or haven’t taught them about Christ. It is possible for a person who has never heard of Christ to go to hell but ultimately God airs on the side of grace. But the bible says that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the glory of God. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” Ecclesiastes 3:11. God has put at the heart of everyone the desire and inclination that there is something out there greater than themself. There is a desire that is embodied in us that believes in a God because we were created by God. On judgment day everyone will stand before Christ and some of those you haven’t already chosen him may have the opportunity to do so then. In the bible Christ says, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me” John 14:6.

 

  1. Gregory Boyd told his father that this is a very difficult topic that causes many disagreements among evangelicals. Boyd sates that he has discovered five principals, which have affected his opinion on the matter. First he says he has very good ground for believing the bible to be God’s word. He says that reality is more complex than we can even imagine. Second, he says that God is most decisively revealed in Jesus Christ. “If you see me you see the father.” Third, he says there is no salvation outside Jesus Christ. No one goes to the father except through the son. The fourth truth is that there are some people who did not know Jesus Christ personally or consciously, but who are nevertheless saved. Finally, he states that there is one issue, which is clear: that people who have not heard and believed in the gospel are in great danger. Gregory’s response to his father convinces me because he clearly states the issue and addresses why it’s a difficult topic. However, he gives five reasons that formed his opinion on the matter. I like how he was direct in addressing this issue and clearly said that anyone with out Christ is damned, because that is the truth and people need to know that. I think Gregory responses very well to his father’s letter. He laid everything out in a way that an unbeliever could understand but also made his father realize how serious this issue is.

 

  1. The answer to this question still isn’t simply will this person go to hell yes or no. However the bible makes it clear that no one goes the heaven except through Christ. The bible also makes it clear that God judges people based on their hearts, according to the light of truth which they didn’t have to respond to, and according to the faith which was (or was not) implicit in their hearts. We serve a God who is a fair and just God, people don’t go to hell for no reason. As Christians, we need to leave the decision of whether or not a person goes to heaven or hell, up to God. Our only concern should be that you are not among those who reject Christ on their own free will. Is it important for us as Christians to have an answer to this question because it is something that most people have questioned at some point in their life. It is also important for us to be able to explain to non-believers the importance of accepting Christ and having a personal relationship with him. No one gets to heaven except through Jesus Christ.

 

 

  1. Correspondence 25: How could an all-loving God torture people in an eternal hell?

 

  1. I chose this question because I have once asked myself this same question. If God is a God of grace, mercy, and forgiveness why would he allow people to be tortured for all of eternity. Edward Boyd’s description of hell and what he imagined it to be like is similar to the way I have invasion it. Edward says that he imagines billions of people burning in lava and that there is fire burning. I believe that this is the idea a lot of Christians and non-Christians have about hell and what it is like. I have often wondered this too. In the end times when Christ returns to earth and everyone that didn’t believe he was the son of God realizes that he is, do they get a second chance? Do those non-believers who finally realize the this God everyone has been talking about really is who he says he is, do they get to go to heaven if then they confess Christ is Lord? The bible says that our God is all loving and all powerful it raises the question well if God was so loving why would he allow people to burn in hell for the rest of eternity?

 

  1. If you have been given opportunities to chose Christ and you never chose to its hard to say that in the end times you will receive a second chance to except Christ. Its not Christ’s desire for people to go to hell, it’s a matter of free will. God is a holy god who can’t be in the presence of sin. If peoples lives aren’t covered with the blood of Christ but instead are covered in sin, they need to place to go, which unfortunately is hell. The world says God sends people to hell but scripture says in 1 timothy 2:3-5 “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” God doesn’t find pleasure or joy in sending people to hell, it breaks his heart more than we can fathom. But ultimately it is our free will or choice whether we chose to accept him as our Lord and savior.

 

  1. Gregory starts off by stating that this topic is one that doesn’t make perfect sense to him either. However, he gives some explanation to the concept of hell. He says that hell isn’t necessarily a place filled with fire and burning lava it is also described a place filled with darkness, punishment, and total destruction. Hell is everything opposite of what God wants us to experience. Gregory also points out that it is people who put themselves in hell, not God. God is not willing to let anyone perish, but that all should come to repentance. If anyone goes to hell it is against God’s will. God doesn’t allow these people to go to hell, it is by free will they choose this path. The punishment from hell is eternal because it has eternal effects, not because it is endured eternally. God’s judgment and mercy converge. God judges the rebellious even as he mercifully puts them out of existence- so that they wont have to endure what the traditional view of hell says they endure. Jesus willingly dies for us to avoid this place. If he did this out of love than hell must be a pretty horrible place.

 

  1. I think it is extremely important for Christians to have an answer to this question because it is so easy for non-Christians to say well if God loves everyone why condemn people to hell? We must have scripture that proves what we are saying is the truth. People need to know that Christ didn’t create hell to torture people for the run of it, but the reason people are in hell is because of their own choices. The bible says “I take no delight in the destruction of the wicked” Ezek. 18:23. It is the rebellious people that love darkness and sin instead of the light and grace of Christ. Hell is where they want to be not where Christ wants them to be. In hell the presence of Christ is no where to be seen, heard, or felt. Hell is a total absence of the Creator. It is important to understand the answer to this correspondence so we can better defend our faith against the unbeliever.

 

 

 

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