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Which blog posts most interested my readers in 2014?

As we begin the new year, I thought it would be interesting to see which of the blog posts on my site were of most interest to readers last year.

Here were the top 10 in 2014:

  1. Against Calvinism 4 – The TULIP system

This was the 4th post in my extended review of Roger Olson’s book, Against Calvinism.

  1. Is sanctification synergistic or monergistic?

Here I talked about a phenomenon that has intrigued me. I have observed that the desire of Arminians to diminish the human contribution to justification, pushes them in the direction of monergism with regard to justification. But, conversely, Calvinists are not immune from this sort of pressure, in the opposite direction, only they feel it in their doctrine of sanctification.

  1. Do the residents of hell continue sinning endlessly?

One of the more difficult challenges for proponents of the traditional view of hell (i.e., eternal conscious torment) to answer has been the question of proportionality between the sins committed and the divine punishment received for those sins. The question is often put like this: “How can God justly punish with infinite severity the finite number of sins committed by finite creatures?”

One common answer has been that God endlessly punishes people in hell because they continue to sin forever. That looks like it might work as a defense of the proportionality of endless punishing, but my examination of the proposal, done while I was still a traditionalist, found it invalid.

  1. The righteousness of Christ: imputed, infused, incorporated

The doctrine of justification has preoccupied evangelicals for quite a while now, fuelled by dialogue between evangelicals and Roman Catholics, and by proposals identified as the “new perspective on Paul.” In some Good Friday reflections, I pondered what God does relative to our righteousness, in his justifying work.

  1. Why is biblical inerrancy back on the evangelical table, and might there be new ways to approach an old controversy?

I was intrigued by the decision of the organizers of the Evangelical Theological Society meeting in November, 2013 to make “biblical inerrancy” their theme that year. In this post, I considered some recent proposals related to this topic and made an assessment of their helpfulness.

  1. Is “hypothetical knowledge Calvinism” vulnerable to the same grounding objection which makes Molinism problematic?

Back in 2000, in Providence and Prayer, I expounded 10 models of divine providence and unpacked one of my own, which I called “Middle knowledge Calvinism.” Later, after extended correspondence with Paul Helm, I gave up the notion that God knows counterfactuals in a “middle moment” (speaking logically), and have since been speaking of my model as “hypothetical knowledge Calvinism.” In this blog post, I responded to an argument made by John Laing, that the view put forward by Bruce Ware and me is flawed for precisely the reason we reject Molinism, namely, the grounding objection. I believe that Laing is wrong about this, and I endeavored to show why.

  1. How will God finally punish unrepentant sinners? Part 2: A very helpful resource

After decades of pondering the nature of hell as taught by Scripture, I moved last year from the traditionalist understanding to the conviction that the Bible teaches that God ultimately destroys (or annihilates) the wicked. I wrote a series of two posts in regard to my “conversion,” and this was the second part. It is an extended review of Rethinking Hell, a very valuable collection of readings in evangelical annihilationism (which the editors of the book prefer to call “conditionalism”).

  1. A small “b” baptist perspective on the rebaptism of mature believers

Forty five years ago, I was ordained to the “baptist ministry.” When I saw my ordination certificate, that rather surprised me, because I had thought I was being ordained by a Baptist church to the “gospel ministry.” But this was not a big problem for me because I was then, and still am now, convinced of the correctness of the essentials of Baptist belief. That being said, one must acknowledge that even these essentials are not exegeted and practiced in exactly the same way by all Baptist churches. That is part of what is fun about being a Baptist theologian. I’m still working on some of these issues, myself, and it is precisely that freedom to pursue biblical truth, which has always been a core value of Baptists, that makes the doing of theology such an exhilarating pursuit. In this post, I ruminated aloud about whether or when mature believers ought to be (re)baptized.

  1. Monergism/synergism, compatibilism/incompatibilism and the nature of human freedom

I am convinced that one of the great watersheds between systems of theology is their position in regard to the relationship of God’s work and the creature’s work. In particular, is strong (meticulous, fine grained, no risk) control of all things by God compatible or incompatible with morally responsible human action. This comes up a great deal in my posts, and the work I did on that question in this post caught the interest of many who visited my site. It is a short post in which I conclude by proposing the methodology by which people should seek an answer to this highly important question.

10. How will God finally punish unrepentant sinners? Part 1: My journey in quest of an answer.

In listing the 7th most popular post on my site in 2014, I mentioned that I had written a 2 part series. In the first of those, I told the story of my journey from traditionalism into annihilationism. I have settled into that position even more surely since writing that post, so I was happy to have been asked to retell my story for a chapter in a book that will come off the press this year, Lord willing.

It is significant, I think, that three of my ten most visited posts this year have addressed the issue of “hell.” I think that this is a subject of great interest to many evangelicals these days, and it often generates heated discussion. I am not on a band wagon to defend my current understanding, but I do think that it is a good thing for evangelicals to study their Bibles carefully on this matter. Atheists frequently mention hell as one of their reasons for not believing in the God of the Bible, and Jerry Walls suggested years ago, correctly I think, that this is one of the key issues we must face in constructing a theodicy, an apology for the goodness of the omnipotent God.

Well, that is what visitors to my site found most interesting last year. I have no idea where I’ll be going with posts this year. I expect the site to be fairly quiet for a few months as I work on other things (see my recent post about this), but my mind is always at work in the great task of understanding God that I might better worship and serve him. What I like about blogging, is the venue it gives me to put just a few of those thoughts out for others to think about, as they move forward in their own journey with God.

May God give you a blessed year in 2015, as your faith continues to seek understanding.

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By Terrance Tiessen

I am Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Providence Theological Seminary, Canada.

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