March 18, 2011 by Gerald Hiestand
Thanks to Rob Bell’s new book the evangelical web is abuzz about Hell. I’ve stayed out of the fray mainly because I’ve been busy, not because I don’t have any thoughts on the topic. Indeed, this is a topic that’s occupied a good deal of my thoughts over the last few years. I’ve not read Bell’s book, but I’ve read much of the other evangelical literature on Hell. While I agree with the church’s historic teaching on this issue, I’m not entirely satisfied with the way many conservatives evangelicals have talked about Hell.
Hell is the ultimate question of theodicy, and I don’t think many conservative evangelicals have fully grasped this. Just as we wouldn’t tell a child whose unbelieving father died in a fire, “Well, he deserved it,” we need to come up with a better answer for the child as to why his unbelieving father is now in Hell. There’s truth in such an answer, of course, but it’s a gross oversimplification of a very difficult issue.
In March 2009 I gave a lecture at Harvest Bible Chapel that lays out my thoughts on Hell. I’m pretty influenced by Lewis, Augustine, and Athanasius on this topic. (I know Piper takes umbrage with Lewis on Hell, but I think there is a way to make use of Lewis’ central insights, while still addressing Piper’s concerns.) The focus of the talk was on how to help Christians talk about Hell to skeptics of Christianity — specifically skeptics who reject Christianity because of its doctrine of Hell. To hear the talk click on the link below.5 Comments