On the one hand, the man had just submitted a chapter to an upcoming anti-Christian book edited by John Loftus. He just finished a massive blogseries in which he attempted to dismantle the wonderful doctrine of the Substitutionary Atonement of Christ. He was an apostate from the faith after earning a PhD in theology from Bob Jones University. This last is what sets him apart from many - unlike a Dan Barker, whose education in Christianity is in reality minimal and easily seen to be shallow, a Bart Ehrman, whose post-grad education (Masters and PhD) is more along the lines of history and textual criticism, or a Richard Carrier whose PhD is in ancient history but who to my knowledge does not claim to have been a Christian, Pulliam's studies were in the very field that should lead one to know Jesus better - theology. He was in a position to know a great deal about the Savior, and yet though he believed in Him, he decided a life lived apart from Jesus would be better than a life lived with Him.
Which brings us to the other hand. Outside of a extraordinary change of heart that he had kept entirely secret, there can be virtually no doubt of his eternal location. His heart attack struck him suddenly, at a relatively young age (50), and probably allowed him little time between its onset and his transition into eternity to reflect and repent. He had just submitted an essay for a book called The End of Christianity. The Lord will judge him by his works in this life and find that he wanted to be far from Him. Thus Dr Pulliam will be granted exactly what he wanted in life - a life lived outside of the grace of Jesus.
Obviously the man knew a great deal about Jesus and yet wanted nothing to do with Him. He blogged a lot, attempting to turn people away from thinking that the Bible is true. He was running headlong toward this end; shall we shake our fists at God for giving the man what he wanted? And yet, we who know better and who love Jesus are sad to see another soul wallow in its self-deception to the bitter, bitter end. Dr Pulliam was a wolf who attempted to destroy the flock of God; I will not shed too many tears when animal control puts a bullet in the wolf who has been tearing up my sheep. Yet at the same time, I know the analogy of "wolf" does not entirely cover it. And I hope that Christians who know his family will reach out to them and offer them the hope of the good news of the forgiveness of sin and eternal life in Jesus' name and will weep with them.
It is interesting to see how uptight people get when it comes to death. Death truly is our great enemy and equalizer, yet how many are prepared for it? A few examples of what I mean:
1) I left a brief comment on Dr Pulliam's latest blogpost (obviously he had several ready for scheduled publishing):
Goodbye Dr Pulliam. Your pitiful arguments against Christianity will be missed. I pity you greatly.I have received several comments in response. I wouldn't call them consistent with atheistic reasoning. Pulliam wouldn't have lived more than a few more decades, and in 100 years, who will remember any of us?
2) Dr James McGrath devotes half of a brief post to eulogise Dr Pulliam. The other half he spends reaming me for my comment! Apparently I have "decided to bring yet further shame on (my)self and (my) faith tradition by harassing someone who has recently died and has no opportunity to respond". So, that little comment constitutes "harassment", eh?
One can only wonder about what sort of motivations are present in Dr McGrath, that the announcement of the man's death quickly steers away from the man to discuss a third-rate blogger like me. Sometimes McGrath could stand to think things through a little more thoroughly, to be sure.
But I would like to ask: What precisely is disgusting about my comment? The implication that the man might be spending eternity separated from the God he claimed not to believe in?
I know the answer - McGrath is a servant of the same being as Dr Pulliam was and is, and death makes such men nervous. Don't talk about man's eternal destiny after somebody died! It's not polite!
3) Ditto with the "The Church of Jesus Christ" blog, which calls me "disgusting".
Here is the comment I left (and which I do not expect them to publish):
Thanks for your thoughts. It is apparent that you have not really understood who Dr Pulliam was. One wonders whether you read his blog very much. He and I have had extensive conversations within the past year, and he has just finished a series in which he did everything within his (limited) power to kick dust on the glorious and wonderful doctrine of the Substitutionary Atonement of Christ. He had a PhD in theology from a Christian university (yes, Bob Jones U is offbeat and has problems, but they’re still Christian) and yet turned away from the Christian faith and did his best over the course of many years to destroy it in the minds of others.
He was not your ally. He was not an unwitting pawn. He was a wolf. Biblically speaking, the only way he could have been worse for the Body of Christ would have been if he had stayed within its ranks to wreak havoc from the inside.
I guess I don’t understand what’s so disgusting here. Is it that I said I pity the man? He had just submitted a chapter in an upcoming antitheist book, and died suddenly. Where do *you* think he is? That’s why I pity him. You sort of make it sound like I am dancing with joy at his death. If that’s what you think, you are very wrong.
Peace and less prejudice to you,
Finally, God has already spoken on this topic. Here are some parts that will prove offensive to those who prefer to believe only part of what God has said and leave the rest to the side b/c it makes them uncomfortable.
Psalm 7:6 Arise, O LORD, in Your anger; Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries,
And arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment.
Psalm 3:7Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God! For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked.
Psalm 2: 1Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 3"Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!"
4He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them.
5Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury...
John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
Romans 2: 1Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. 3But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. 9There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil...