PMW 2022-025 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 Revelation
(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?
(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.
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