“Well, I was raised in Knockemstiff, Ohio, and ‘hellfire and damnation’ was often preached about in my little country church, especially during revivals. Listening to the sermons at Bethel Chapel, there was no doubt that issues of life and death were at stake in how one responded to the gospel. I was converted at age 11 in response to a sermon on the text, ‘there is but one step between death and thee.’
“Several years later, I went to Princeton seminary, and many students as well as faculty were dubious about the idea of hell, and some rejected the afterlife altogether. The clash between my religious formation and my formal theological training was existentially riveting for me, and provoked me to think seriously about heaven and hell and whether there really are good reasons to believe in them or not. After graduating from Princeton, I went to Yale Divinity school, where I wrote a master’s thesis on hell, and I have been thinking and writing about these issues ever since!”
Read the entire interview here.
Rejoicing in Lament Media:
J. Todd Billings, author of Rejoicing in Lament, wrote “Lament: Self-Indulgent Whining, or Faithful Complaints?” for Reformation 21.
“As I spent more and more time in study and prayer with the Psalms I realized how often I had been ‘skipping over’ its sharp cries of grief, its protests to the Lord, its complaints about enemies. In a Christianity always seeking to be upbeat, centered on helping us to discover and fulfill our dreams, I had missed the centrality of lament: raw complaints and protests before the Lord.
“As a cancer patient whose life expectancy had likely been chopped off by decades, I felt grief and anger. But am I supposed to ‘bring those emotions to church,’ and risk being a complainer? The prayer of Psalm 102:23-24 was clear enough: ‘In the course of my life he broke my strength; he cut short my days. So I said: “Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days.”‘
“Apparently, God can handle our complaints.”
Read the entire article here.
In a new video, Todd Billings reminisced reminisced on how the community at Western Theological Seminary supported him during some of his darkest days.