Refuting Hell in A Contentious Age

I got this article via Adiaphora, which I thought I should note.

I think that this article makes a number of common mistakes in the discussion around Hell in the modern church, and I thought it provided a solid opportunity for me to point out these mistakes – if nothing else, then because I don’t think what is described has much hope of actually reaching any thoughtful progressives or postmoderns.

While talking about the article and what it has to say, I’ll be quoting portions of it rather than the whole thing because it is significantly longer than I want my posts to be on this blog.

As to when I’ll have time to do this – we’ll see. I’ve quit one of my three jobs after an 82+ hour work week recently and the realization that my work on the book has basically stalled out for a month now…so maybe I’ll have more time now and then.

In the meantime, read the article. Its interesting – another traditionalist trying to deal with postmodernity. Where it mis-characterizes or seems condescending, I don’t think it is intentional, and I assume it is well-meant. If you honestly believe God is waiting to throw us in hell (and that this is somehow good and loving), then keeping people out of that horrific situation is definitely a priority, so I understand that much.

I realized I’ve talked about this stuff before, so I’ll try to only say relatively new things in this treatment of the article.

What sparked this new post is – the article is clearly aimed at someone like me, and it doesn’t reach me, and I want to say why, because I think I have good reasons not to be reached here.

13 thoughts on “Refuting Hell in A Contentious Age

  1. Doug,Looking forward to it too. But it seems to me, right off the bat, that the author doesn’t understand what ‘postmodern’ really is.Take for example his brilliant conclusion:“It is only because of the doctrine of judgment and hell that Jesus’ proclamation of grace and love are so brilliant and astounding”No yin without a yang? Every North needs a South, every light needs a dark, every good needs a bad? Isn’t that dualistic Greek philosophy, the very founding stone of Gnosticism?(postmodernism relegates that kind of thinking to the rantings of a madman. Like the Joker telling Batman “you complete me”)Don’t think you can reach postmodernists with that sort of logic. Nope.

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  2. Yeah, I do think that part of the problem is a mischaracterization of postmoderns in general (which is very common), but I don’t want to say more until I a) have time to be more thorough and b) let the author of the original article know that I’m writing a response.This post is actually sort of to remind me and to motivate me to actually write something 🙂

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  3. Well, more accurately, why were his teachings on Hell recorded? I mean, its possible that Jesus only mentioned Hell now and then, but that people remembered…and it might be that Paul and the other deut-Pauline authors mentioned Hell in person all the time but not in letters…But anyway.Also…I almost never hear a turn-of-the-millenium Hell talked about by those who seem most interested in it, but rather the Medieval European Hell that we’ve inherited.Also…I have yet to hear a solid refutation of annihilationism, in contrast to eternal torture, the favored interpretation of the Hell passages.But…I should save this until I have more time.

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  4. If you’d like a philosophical and theological deconstruction of annihilationism, you needn’t look any further than Jean Calvin’s earliest treatise: <>Psychopannychia<>. It’s available < HREF="http://www.lgmarshall.org/Calvin/calvin_psychopannychia.html" REL="nofollow">for free<> all over the internet. < HREF="http://www.michaelryanwalker.com/files/Psychopannychia_Text.pdf" REL="nofollow">Here’s a PDF<> from my friend, Michael Walker, who is ABD at Princeton and this treatise is his topic.

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  5. Hmm…reading the intro and thesis, I can see that the treatise you recommend doesn’t address what I meant by “annihilationism”, but rather the extent to which the soul exists after death. Another thing to clarify, I guess.

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  6. If you read the whole thing, he addresses it. It’s not his central thesis, granted. (He was dealing directly with a Lutheran assertion of Soul Sleep – a neoclassical resurgence meant to counter the unbiblical claim of limbo/purgatory.)Besides…it’s CALVIN!!! It’s good for ya! And it might come in handy during CPE.

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  7. Yeah, sorry about that – I only had time to read the intro and skim part of the rest. I might have the time to do that much reading at some near point, but for the nonce, I don’t really have time to read anything of significant length.

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