Exploring Hope Podcast: Do babies go to heaven when they die?

This episode of Exploring Hope Podcast tackles the very sobering and solemn topic of the fate of infants and young children when they pass away. Do they go to heaven? Of course, we all immediately desire that the answer is yes, and we hope, pray, and believe that is the case for those who die so young that they never were able to respond to the Gospel. But do we have any biblical warrant for believing this? Is our emotional response indicative of the truth, or is it in spite of the truth of the bible? Dr. John Hammett, Professor of Theology at SEBTS, sits down with Dr. Dew to discuss the theological and scriptural evidences for this claim. Tune in!

 

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In Case You Missed It

Earlier this week at his personal blog, Dr. Bruce Ashford shared a glimpse into the life of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary as a “Great Commission” Seminary. Dr. Ashford writes:

Southeastern possesses a clear identity, confession, and mission. The seminary is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperative Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention. Its faculty members confess the Bible as the authoritative Word of God and covenant to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles and the Baptist Faith & Message. They further affirm the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy and the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Together with the Board of Trustees and the administration, faculty members share a mission in which “Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Mt 28:1920).” In summary, Southeastern is a confessional seminary in the Southern Baptist stream of historic Christianity whose mission is to be a Great Commission seminary.

 

Karen Swallow Prior published an article on the challenge of entertainment at First Things: “Delight in the Good.”

I’m tempted to concur with the diagnosis of our current malaise offered by Carl Trueman: “[E]ntertainment is not simply a part of our world. It is arguably the dominant essence of our world. … [E]ntertainment is now ontology.”

 

I’ve been teaching college students for nearly thirty years, and I can affirm, with Neil Postman, that entertainment has been “the dominant essence” for students for at least that long. I’ve been a member of the body of Christ for even longer, and can attest to a similar attitude of careless consumption in too many pews (and a good number of podiums). Yet the problem, I think, is not that entertainment is ontology. Rather, it is that we don’t know what place to accord entertainment within our ontology. We should beware giving it too low a place, as well as too high.

 

Our human ability to delight in the world means that entertainment is part of human nature. Today, technology makes entertainment so ubiquitous that our only options may seem to be to consume it mindlessly or to reject it mindlessly.

 

Keelan Cook shared some tips on how to map your church members in Google for local outreach. Keelan writes:

We talk a lot about hospitality today. There is no end lately to the blog posts and articles circulating the internet concerning the importance of hospitality in outreach and missions. I have several on this site.

 

Hospitality is an important aspect of ministry that Western Christians often struggle to incorporate into their lives. Compared to other areas of the world, we love our privacy, and  our home easily becomes our fortress of solitude. While homes should be a place for rest, the Bible challenges us to view them as tools for ministry. Can we honestly say we are stewarding God’s gifts well when our single, biggest purchase is never used for outreach?

 

We should change this paradigm in our churches. Homes are not caves. They are not fortresses to protect us from the hectic world outside. They are gracious gifts from our Heavenly Father to be used, in turn, for his glory. This means opening your home up to others. Yes, it means having others from your church over, but it means even more than that. Use it as a staging ground for the Great Commission.

 

When was the last time you invited unbelieving neighbors into your home?

 

Krystal Wilson posted at The Intersect Project on Colin Kaepernick: Looking Past the Outrage.

Athletes: the only people who can go from “pent house to outhouse in seconds.”

 

As a former division one athlete, I’ve heard these words a thousand times, particularly from my father. He too was a former collegiate athlete, recruited by the likes of the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, and he had become all too familiar with the unique plight of an athlete.

 

Athletes know it is far too easy to fall from the high graces of fans. One moment people are singing your praises, and the next they’re burning your jersey. Knowing the fragileness of the pedestal upon which many athletes sit, it is genuinely surprising when they risk it all for something they believe in. To take such a risk, they must find that their belief or stance is worthy of the consequences of a loss of fan base and endorsements.

 

Which brings us to Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick (and several other NFL players) have decided to silently protest racial injustice in America by kneeling or raising a fist during the playing of the national anthem.

 

Kaepernick isn’t the first athlete to use his platform and take a form of silent protest on behalf of the voiceless. Kaepernick joins the likes of Muhammad Ali and Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos who protested societal ills.

 

As we consider Kaepernick’s stance, let’s look past the distractions and consider some gospel implications and a way forward.

 

Sarah Rainer shared seven tips to address mental health issues in the church. Sarah writes:

One in five people in your church will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime.

 

You will have few people who have not been directly or indirectly impacted by mental health issues. With so many individuals impacted, church leaders need basic knowledge to handle these issues effectively.

 

Church leaders do not need to be experts in psychological functioning, but they do need some basic knowledge in order to offer support to individuals struggling in the church. Here are seven basic pointers that every church leader should consider when dealing with mental health issues.

 

In a recent roundtable discussion posted by The Gospel Coalition, Miguel Núñez, Danny Akin, and Bill Kynes got together to discuss their biggest fear in ministry.

 

Student-hood as Neighbor-Love

By: Dr. Benjamin Quinn

If Jesus’ words are true (and I believe they are!) that the most important thing about living in God’s world is to love God and love others, how does this apply to Student-hood—that time in life spent in the physical (or virtual) classroom amidst peers and professors?

The following series reflects portions of a “1st day of class” talk I give each semester on “Student-hood as Neighbor-love.”

We will begin by considering the peer-to-peer relationships between fellow students.  At least five areas emerge where neighbor-love directly affects how peers relate while students.  The first is pretty straightforward—that dreadful word that has plagued us since Kindergarten—attendance!  Don’t worry, I will not attempt a case for “perfect attendance” here.  If we are serious about loving our fellow students, however, showing up to class should be a priority.  I’ll leave it at that for now.

Second is participation.  “To speak or not to speak; that is the question.”  And, the answer to this question cuts two ways.  On one side, if you have something to contribute to the discussion, please do.  On the other side, give serious consideration to your understanding of the word “contribute.”  By “contribute” here, I mean, a comment or question that is relevant, thoughtful, critical (though charitable), and beneficial for the moment.  Participation that is filtered in this way will doubtless enhance the experience for both students and teachers.

There is another side of neighbor-love as participation, though.  Every class has “that student.”  You know who I’m referring to.  The person who fails to filter any comment or question through any sensible grid whatsoever.  Peer-to-peer neighbor-love is important here.  I encourage my students to love one another enough to pull “that student” aside and lovingly talk about how we can constructively contribute in class.  “Who would ever do this?” you ask?  Students who love each other enough to call one another to a high standard of Student-hood.  Believe it or not, it has happened among my students, and we are all the better for it.

Listening is the third area to consider.  Good students are good listeners.  They are not merely listeners as the above suggests.  But, they are careful and intentional listeners, such that when they ask a question or offer a comment, it either carries the conversation forward, or clarifies a point in a helpful way.  Indeed, good listening is important for all of life (Deut. 6:4, Prov. 1 and 8, Luke 9:35); but, rarely is it more important than in the classroom.

A fourth area—and a sensitive one—is technology.  Some professors and teachers have gone the way of eliminating all technology from the classroom.  I understand this and have considered it myself.  Eventually, though, I chose the other end of the spectrum.  I encourage technology in my classroom.  More specifically, I encourage the use of technology during class that fosters deeper community and enhances the learning environment.

This is accomplished in a few ways.  First, I explain that the 21st century professor is no longer the expert in the room.  The computer/tablet/phone is now the expert in the room.  But, while the technology may provide the answers, it does not teach the questions.  This is the professor’s task.

By encouraging technology in the classroom, I invite students to “fact check” anything discussed in class, and I encourage them to offer correction (respectfully, of course—preferably in the form of a question) if they find my information to be different from another reputable source.  This promotes a culture of Truth that teachers need not fear, but instead should cherish.  Additionally, it creates opportunities to challenge opposing views and narratives, and it forces students to critically consider the questions being asked and answered—and, thus, to critically consider their own.

Additionally, neighbor-love regulates our use of technology in the classroom.  Perusing ESPN, Facebook, or Pinterest likely does nothing to enhance the learning environment.  Therefore, avoid it.  Explaining how neighbor-love regulates technology in the classroom in this way creates a culture of accountability that I have found effective.  Now, I’m certain students have enjoyed ESPN or Pinterest now and then during class, but in seven years of teaching college and seminary students, I have never had a problem.

Finally, all of the above serves to cultivate the deepest level of classroom community possible.  Neighbor-love is the stuff of good community—especially when preceded by proper love for God.  In the classroom, then, teachers should take the lead in creating an environment that maximizes community and enriches learning.  This is done in multiple ways, but not least by knowing and listening to the students.  “The teacher should listen to the students?!?!”  Yes!

If a teacher’s job is to educate, how does she know what the students do or do not know/understand if she does not listen to them?  Quizzes, exams, and other assessment tools are certainly valuable here.  But, class discussion is the ideal opportunity for real-time insight into what students understand, and how well (or poorly) the teacher is communicating ideas.

Moreover, for the students themselves, a classroom of budding friendships provides a richer learning environment that a cold room of strangers.  Education is bigger than our classrooms.  It continues into the hallways, parking lots, dorm rooms, and coffee shops as students soak in new ideas.  Classroom community initiates these conversations, shapes the lives of students, and sometimes ignites lifelong friendships.

Dr. Benjamin Quinn is Assistant Professor of Theology and History of Ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Associate Dean of Institutional Effectiveness for the College at Southeastern.