HellPMT 2016-027 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

We have been considering the absolute sovereignty of God in this series on postmillennialism. If one holds to a strong (biblical!) view of God’s sovereignty, then postmillennialism cannot be dismissed out-of-hand by claims that it is to difficult. The only credible argument against postmillennialism can be a biblical argument. But many of the arguments are more emotional than biblical.

In this part of the series I have been considering moral objections to God’s absolute sovereignty. I have been showing that there are other doctrines that Christians hold that are equally objectionable on moral grounds, but which most Christians hold. In this installment I will focus on the doctrine of eternal hell.

Objections against hell

When we come to the doctrine of eternal hell we are entering into a discussion of the most “morally repugnant” and “emotionally repulsive” doctrine within the whole system of Christian theology. Who can seriously contemplate the doctrine of hell without some sort of fear and trepidation? Though historically the Church has affirmed the doctrine of eternal hell, voices within the Christian tradition have long tried to re-interpret this doctrine to make it more palatable. Some have reduced the doctrine of hell to a doctrine of heck. And, of course, opponents of the Christian faith often point to the doctrine as obvious evidence that Christianity could not be true.

Four Views on the Book of RevelationFour View Rev
(ed. by Marvin Pate)

Helpful presentation of four approaches to Revelation. Ken Gentry writes the chapter on the preterist approach to Revelation, which provides a 50 page survey of Revelation .

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

Influential writers expressing revulsion at the doctrine of hell include the following:
John R. W. Stott has commented (as a conservative, evangelical Christian): “Emotionally, I find the concept intolerable.”

Clark H. Pinnock (who deems himself evangelical) writes: “Whatever the image, the traditional understanding of hell is unspeakably horrible. How can one imagine for a moment that the God who gave his Son to die for sinners because of his great love for them would install a torture chamber somewhere in the new creation in order to subject those who reject him to everlasting pain?”

Christian statement on hell
Nevertheless, Christians have largely agreed that the Bible teaches about hell. The following Confessional statement on hell represents the thinking of perhaps the majority of evangelical Christians. WCF 32:1: “The souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day.”

Biblical declaration of hell
The Bible undeniably presents eternal hell as the ultimate judgment of the wicked. In fact, more is taught about hell by Christ himself than any other single individual in Scripture. Thus, our view of hell also impacts our view of Christ and his integrity and authority, as the atheist Bertrand Russell observed. Consider the forthright declarations of Scripture — several from our Lord Jesus himself.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matt 5:27–30)

So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 13:49–50)Great Tribulation Past or Future Resized

Great Tribulation: Past or Future?
(Thomas Ice v. Ken Gentry)

Debate book on the nature and timing of the great tribulation. Both sides thoroughly cover the evidence they deem necessary, then interact with each other.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels. . . .’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matt 25:41, 46)

And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea. And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than having your two feet, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. And if your eye causes you to stumble, cast it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ (Mark 9:42–48)

Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 7)

And another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’ (Rev 14:9–11)

According to a recent Gallup Poll, 65% of the American population believes in hell, whereas 92% of those who attend church regularly believe in hell (hopefully not because their church service is so bad). The average evangelical Christian accepts the doctrine of hell, despite its intellectual and moral challenges. Yet many of the same Christians reject predestination on identical intellectual and moral grounds. This brings inconsistency into one’s reasoning. We must accept what the Scripture teaches no matter how difficult it may seem to our finite, fallen conceptions.

Click on the following images for more information on these studies:

God Wine


Climax Revelation

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  1. Darin May 15, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    I’ve wondered about the use of “figurative” language as it concerns hell. Similar as to why I am a Partial Preterist, arguments can be made that seem consistent with this form of interpretation whereas the “lake of fire” event is the final 2nd death and eternal destruction of individuals with no hope of eternal life forever.

    “No rest day or night” would seem to argue to the contrary, but all of the language is very figurative leading up to this statement and thereafter.

    Just wondered if you have wrestled with this since we both know almost everything Jesus said was in parables and figurative (which is why we can accept His AD 70 coming in judgement as actually happening) even though a more literal view of how that happened keeps others away from such an understanding.

    I’m still in the hell forever and not destruction camp, but I do wrestle with it. As I grow in my knowledge of grace and what God had done for me the heart of love for the lost only increases. Hard to fathom the same Jesus that I love for such mercy is the same “Lamb” standing in front of hell forever and ever as the lost are tortured, Cognitive dissonance creeps in, but from a proper perspective rather than just an emotional non acceptance of the truth.

    Do we, just like those who think Preterist are heretics because its obvious Jesus did not return in the 1st century make the same mistake when it comes to hell because of fear we may be heretical in our thoughts? I would find it hard to believe that any Preterist who has taken figurative language to its logical conclusion hasn’t at least considered our modern western interpretive bias gets in the way of really drilling down to what the 2nd death really is.

    Sorry so long, so much more I’d like to say like Jesus use of “Gehenna” and so forth, but just curious as to your thoughts and if you have ever dealt with this.

  2. Kenneth Gentry May 16, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    The fear of being heretical is a wholesome thought that should discourage us from innovation. Much more is involved in the doctrine of eternal hell than simply the many verses that directly teach it. The very idea of man as the image of God possessing immortality is also involved. And much more.

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