NEW YORK TIMES FEATURES OUR WORK, TEACHING

If we needed any more confirmation of God's grace and hand on the subject, it surely came a few days ago in the form of an out-of-the-blue phone message and email. "My name is Mark Oppenheimer," the message said. "I am a religion writer for the New York Times. I am doing an article on the conditionalist view of hell. May I phone you for an interview?" I considered his question for about … [Read more...]

FUDGE ON FOOTBALL

I have never been much of a sports fan--except for a time in high school when I rooted for the Athens (Ala.) Golden Eagles, our town's home team (my private Athens Bible School did not particpate in intramural sports.) Thinking back more than half a century to those mighty Golden Eagles, an Old Testament verse comes to mind--the one that says "There were giants in the earth in those days; … [Read more...]

BODY, SOUL, SPIRIT (4)

A gracEmail subscriber asks: "What is your understanding of man as body, soul and spirit?" * * * This subject is one about which many believers have (to them) clear ideas, make absolute distinctions and teach with uncompromising vigor. After 50 years of Bible study, I still find it inhabiting a largely gray area of Scripture teaching. These differences of opinion will surely remain until we all … [Read more...]

BODY, SOUL, SPIRIT (3)

A gracEmail subscriber asks: "What is your understanding of man as body, soul and spirit?" * * * The words most commonly translated as "spirit" in the Scriptures of both Old (Hebrew: ruach) and New (Greek: pneuma) Testament are also the words for "wind" and "breath." When someone dies, the "spirit" (breath, life-force) returns to God who gave it (Psalm 104:29-30; Acts 7:59). There is no … [Read more...]

BODY, SOUL, SPIRIT (2)

A gracEmail subscriber asks: "What is your understanding of man as body, soul and spirit?" * * * The New Testament uses the words "soul" and "spirit" in more nuanced ways but it never contradicts what we have seen already in Genesis. The New Testament generally uses "soul" (Greek: psyche for a "person" or "self." This word speaks of a person as a unified, whole being with emphasis on life or … [Read more...]

BODY, SOUL, SPIRIT (1)

A gracEmail subscriber asks: "What is your understanding of the human being as body, soul and spirit?" * * * The Bible is not crystal clear about this topic although the dogmatism of some teachers might suggest otherwise. For that reason, I like to begin with the scene described in Genesis 2:7, which says: "Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the … [Read more...]

A testimony to God’s faithfulness

Our story is but one of millions that testify to God's faithful, gracious and often-surprising guidance. I (Edward), who am writing this, was born the oldest grandson of African missionaries on my mother's side and poor Southern sharecroppers on my father's side, I was born six weeks premature in a rural Alabama clinic in 1944. Unable to take nourishment, my birth weight of five pounds fell to … [Read more...]

THE FACE BEHIND THE GRACEMAIL

Now and then a gracEmail reader asks, "Who are you anyway?" The truth is that I am a broken conduit of God's mercy with a life full of divine surprises. * * * I was born prematurely in July 1944 in a country clinic 20 miles from a small North Alabama town and was not expected to survive the first week. I am a grandson of Alabama sharecroppers on one side of the family and of African missionaries … [Read more...]

A WORD OF INTRODUCTION

From time to time, gracEmail readers ask who I am, where I came from, and where I am situated on the Christian spectrum. For the sake of the curious, please forgive these personal remarks today. * * * For several generations my ancestors on both sides of the family served God in Churches of Christ and I came to know and trust in Jesus Christ within the nurture of that same heritage. Having … [Read more...]

NOT YOUR ORDINARY GRACEMAIL

A gracEmail subscriber writes: "The note at the end of your column encourages readers to help spread this message 'by every means possible.' Does that mean you want me to nail it to doors, put it under automobile windshield wipers and throw copies into the air when the wind is blowing?' * * * Although your question is neither biblical nor spiritual, the philanthropic purpose driving this column … [Read more...]