Affection for the doctrine of Hell

That is an attention grabbing headline, no? 

There has been a lot of discussion over the last  3 or 4 months ( I lose track of exactly when it started) on the subject of Hell.  Live Wins, the controversial book authored by Rob Bell, has probably served to elevate the subject more than any other single source.  The essential premise of Bell’s book is that ultimately God’s love wins and Bell offers the (distinct) possibility that all people, irrespective of their mortal relationship with Jesus Christ, will eventually be welcomed into heaven to spend eternity in the presence of God.  The obvious implication is an empty Hell.

You do not have to look very far to find theologians and pastors who oppose Bell’s theology on this subject. While neither a theologian or pastor, I count myself in their company.  A few of these use one breath to affirm the doctrine of Hell and in the next breath make some sort of qualifying statement that says while they believe in Hell, the don’t like the fact that it exists and wish that it did not have to.  Perhaps to be thought of as a kinder/gentler proponent of judgment for the unrighteous in their eternity.  I suppose that many if not most of these utterances are coming from a sincere heart.  But I suspect that these statements are sometimes offered as a means by which to NOT appear to be cold-hearted or cruel, which might be the conclusion if an emphatic affirmation of both Hell’s existence and its purpose for the punishment of the wicked and glorification of God were offered instead.

Kevin DeYoung has a brilliant article on this subject.  It is well worth the read, not just as it relates to the subject of Hell, but really anything contained in scripture that is initially uncomfortable for us.


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