Hot Topics 2019 – Resources on hell, sexuality and failure
Our Hot Topics 2019 series focused on questions around hell, sexuality and failure. Here are a few resources to help you continue thinking about and engaging with these issues.
Why bother with hell?
Death and the Afterlife – Paul Williamson
Topic: Biblical perspectives on ultimate questions
Mat says: “This book covers the topic of death and the afterlife, including perspectives on this issue from different ancient and modern cultures, as well as questions such as Is death separation from God? and What is the fate of people in hell and in heaven?
“There are questions answered in this book that Christians have discussed over the ages, such as is hell eternal, temporal, destruction, physical, etc. These are hard things to think about, but they are questions that we must wrestle with. Paul Williamson does this very well, dealing with big questions from several perspectives, including the Old Testament, New Testament, Ancient Near East and between the testaments.
“There are so many questions about the afterlife that we can answer, many that can’t and many that we can speculate about. Paul helpfully directs us through this maze, constantly pointing us to God’s word and wrestling with the text.”
Sexuality matters but it doesn’t make us.
A Better Story – Glynn Harrison
Topic: Sex, sexuality and identity in the 21st century
Brian says: “With engaging writing, this book offers a clear assessment of our world as we see it. It’s helpful for anyone who is doing ministry, interested in ethics, wanting to love people, raising children, shocked by the 21st century or living in 21st century culture. Basically, this book will be helpful for almost everyone!
“It begins by looking for a better understanding of the astonishing upheaval and change western society has undergone since the sexual revolution began in the 1960s. The book offers great insight into the factors that drove this huge social change and the ways these changes have become a part of mainstream culture. Harrison also offers insightful critique of the unhelpful attitudes and actions common among Christians and churches that created fertile ground for the revolution to take place. He tries to understand the ‘stories’ of the sexual revolution and why they have such a powerful and influential hold on our society.
“The second section of the book offers a thoughtful and respectful assessment of the ‘promises’ made by the sexual revolution and whether it has lived up to these.
“The final section offers something better. The stories and promises of the sexual revolution are very attractive, but ultimately they fail. Thankfully, the God of the Bible offers a better view of human sexuality and flourishing. He offers a better story and better hope through the work of Christ and through a gospel-shaped understanding of identity, humanity, sex, sexuality and heaven.
“Harrison doesn’t create a sense of us vs them. Rather he offers a firm but gentle critique of the sexual revolution and Christian culture where appropriate. He is also very careful to point out the good effects of the sexual revolution that Christians should be quick to acknowledge and give thanks for.
“If you have a tendency to see the world through a ‘left’ or ‘right’ lens, this book will help you to see the world through God’s lens, and to see the issues and unhelpful attitudes of ‘left’, ‘right’ and even ‘conservative Christian’ thinking.”
Topic: Biblical and compassionate thinking about living as a same-sex attracted Christian
Brian says: “This website has stories and testimonials of same-sex attracted Christians living for God and his glory through the ups and downs of life. There are also a range of resources for individuals and churches who want to grapple with these issues in a loving and godly way.”
From the website: “Can you be gay and Christian? Is it a sin to be gay? How do you live life without sex? How do I support my same-sex attracted Christian friend/family member? We are a group of Christians who experience same-sex attraction bringing out into the open the questions and dilemmas that gay Christians can often face.”
Topic: Thinking biblically about singleness and our church family
Brian says: “This website (and conference) has been set up to help all Christians rightly understand singleness and the valuable place single people have in church families. All too often, single people have been made to feel less valuable in church communities, or made to feel like their life is not fulfilling or not yet started. This conference and website raise issues faced by single people and also give suggestions for how all people, whether single or married, can be welcomed in and loved in church families.”
Failure is an option!
Crazy Busy – Kevin DeYoung
Topic: Dealing with the busyness we get sucked into when we find our value in our achievements
Brian says: “Kevin DeYoung writes about the perils of being crazy busy from his own experience and draws on his efforts to combat this. He diagnoses the root causes of our addiction to busyness and helps to show how the gospel offers us so much more. Kevin also throws in many practical tips and strategies along the way.”
Compared to Her – Sophie de Witt
Topic: Exposing our innate desire to compare ourselves to others to find our value and worth
Brian says: “Sophie de Witt’s book exposes an issue common to many people. We tend to compare ourselves to others and find our value and worth in this comparison. This either leaves us feeling proud and arrogant when we think we’re better than the next person, or shattered and worthless if we feel we don’t measure up. Sophie explores what she calls ‘compulsive comparison syndrome’, including its triggers and symptoms. She then offers true hope and value given in the gospel.”