There is something healthy about returning to one’s roots. When it comes to evangelical Christianity, its roots are found in the soil of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation.

Where the Fires are Not Quenched: Biblical, Theological & Pastoral Perspectives on Hell

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  • Where the Fires are Not Quenched: Biblical, Theological & Pastoral Perspectives on Hell

    For over 2000 years the mainstream Christian church has affirmed the biblical teaching of eternal punishment in hell. In the last fifty years, however, a significant shift in belief has occurred among Christians, even among some evangelicals. The influence has come both from within and without. Outside the church, philosophers such as Bertrand Russell claimed that any profoundly humane person could not believe in everlasting punishment. For Russell, it “is a doctrine of cruelty”, responsible for producing generations of “cruel torture”.1 Our postmodern society’s love of ‘tolerance’ and ‘each-to-his-own truth’ means that the concept of a God punishing people in hell forever is not only intolerable, it’s laughable. Inside the church, well-known evangelicals have brought the subject under increasing scrutiny. Some have demoted the topic of hell to a ‘secondary issue’, encouraging the tolerance of both traditionalist and conditionalist interpretations.2 John Stott, who describes himself as “agnostic” on the issue,3 has said that “[t]he ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment.”4 Brian McLaren, an advocate for the emerging church, also opts for a form of ‘agnosticism’, downplaying the issue and wishing to focus on the positives rather than deal with the hard texts on hell.5 More recently, he has attempted “to deconstruct our conventional concepts of hell in the sincere hope that a better vision of the gospel of Jesus Christ will appear”.

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