L. Alfred James

Does the Bible Really Forbid Premarital Sex?

By L. Alfred James I’ve had several conversations with young Christians who tell me they are puzzled as to why churches preach that premarital sex is wrong. They tell me that they’ve read through large parts of the Bible looking for passages that clearly condemn it, and they did not find anything. “So,” they tell me, “since the Bible doesn’t forbid it, and I don’t see how it hurts anything, I’m moving in with my girlfriend.” In response, this week we are going to simply do some basic exegesis to … Read More »

How Can Jesus Be Both God and the Son of God?

By L. Alfred James This is the final post of a long series of posts designed to provide an intellectual pathway for moving someone (or yourself) all the way from hardcore atheism to biblical Christianity. We first reviewed several arguments for God’s existence, and then arguments for Christianity (including the resurrection of Christ). Since then, we have worked our way through the most common objections to Christianity. Today, we finish with one last objection that deserves much more attention than it commonly receives: How can Jesus be both God and … Read More »

Why Believe that Jesus was God?

By L. Alfred James As a young Christian, I remember learning about the concept of the Trinity for the first time. I read a lot of books that said belief in the “deity of Christ” (the doctrine that Jesus is God) is extremely important. At the same time, I also worked at a grocery store right alongside a Jehovah’s witness who consistently told me that Jesus was definitely not God and never claimed to be God. This coworker (who was a very nice guy) insisted that the Bible never even … Read More »

How Can A Good God Allow So Much Suffering?

By L. Alfred James Last week, we saw that one reason why God allows people to do evil things is because of his decision to give human beings a free will. Without freedom, genuine love is impossible. If human beings were pre-programmed to always do the right thing, their love would be a sham. However, this does not solve all problems pertaining to suffering. Even if true love requires the possibility of doing evil, why does there have to be so much suffering in the world? Just think about how … Read More »

How Can A Good God Allow Mass Murder?

By L. Alfred James There is an astonishing amount of evil in our world. Consider these three levels of evil events: Some evil events happen at a local level. For instance, in February of 2020 a sweet 6-year old girl in Cayce, South Carolina was strangled to death by one of her neighbors who then slit his own throat. This grisly crime stunned everyone in the metro Columbia area. Sometime evil is felt at a national level, such as the Las Vegas shooting a few years back. On October 1, … Read More »

There Is No Peace Without Hell

By L. Alfred James The human race needs the doctrine of hell. Yes, you read that correctly: we need it. It is the only way to end the cycle of violence in the world. Don’t believe me? Take it from Miroslav Volf, a Croatian theologian who has carefully reflected on human violence. He has been prompted to do so largely because of his own experience of the clashes between the Croats and the Serbs. Volf has seen and experienced brutality firsthand. In fact, one town that was near his own … Read More »

I Don’t Believe In A God Of Judgment!

By L. Alfred James “I could never believe in a God who sends people to hell forever. That accomplishes nothing good at all!” I’ve heard this statement, or something just like it, in very scholarly of settings (during a formal debate) and in informal settings (chatting at a coffee shop). It stems from a legitimate appreciation for the grace of God. However, it reflects a serious failure to think carefully about the relationship between mercy and justice. God is Good There are several hidden assumptions in this statement. Foremost among … Read More »

Does Hell Need To Be Forever?

By L. Alfred James “I could never believe in a God who sends people to hell forever!” I’ve heard this statement so many times, I’ve lost count. People who make this statement usually don’t realize it, but they are implicitly making some other (very serious) claims. To be sure, they are implicit claims, and they are almost never made explicit, but they are part and parcel of this statement. What are these claims? Nothing Is Important Enough To Justify Hell (Or God Is Not Just) A person who says that … Read More »

Is Hell Really Just?

By L. Alfred James How could it be just for God to send a person to hell forever, or even for him to “allow” a person to consign themselves to hell forever? Isn’t eternal punishment overkill? Doesn’t it seem like a lack of justice? This is among of the most common questions people have about the doctrine of hell, and it is often a serious intellectual stumbling block for people who are seriously investigating Christianity. The Principle of Proportionality One of the most important components of a theory of justice … Read More »

Why Does Hell Exist?

By L. Alfred James In their gigantic hit song, Devil Inside, INXS singer Michael Hutchence spoke for millions of people when he said, “It’s hard to believe we need a place called hell.” Hell is, without a doubt, hard to believe in. It is not overreaching to say that the doctrine of hell has been the greatest stumbling block for intellectually minded people who are investigating the Christian faith. And this doctrine has proven to be a difficult concept even for spiritually mature Christians to hold on to. In fact, … Read More »