On Hell

Posted: March 29, 2012 in Theologababble

[The following is a position paper on Hell that was written for a seminary class years ago.]

CHAPTER I

THE PROBLEM AT HAND IS INTRODUCED

 A perusal of church history over the course of the last 2000 years would show that a general belief existed in reference to idea of eternal torment in a place called hell for all lost people. According to Richard Mayhue of The Master’s Seminary, such belief “has been the almost unbroken testimony of the church.”[1] It comes somewhat as a surprise, then, to learn that more than one prominent evangelical has arisen to challenge the long-accepted doctrine of hell.[2]

 

The Factors are Presented Concerning the Doctrine of Hell

 

There are two primary issues in the debate. The first is in regards to the nature of suffering in hell; whether it is literal and physical as opposed to being metaphorical or non-physical. The second and more prominent area of debate concerns the duration of an unbeliever’s suffering in hell; whether it is eternal, temporary, or even if there is any hell at all. Because an exploration of both issues would exceed the scope of this paper, this writer will focus upon addressing the duration of hell.

The problem involved in a matter of this magnitude has many facets. Firstly, if a Christian’s perspective of hell (the “bad news”) is incorrect, this may lead to a misunderstanding and thus miscommunication of the Gospel (the “good news”). In other words, if news about hell is part of a soul-winner’s Gospel presentation, and their understanding of hell is wrong, than there is a good chance that their Gospel presentation will also be wrong. Secondly, it is impossible for all opposing viewpoints on hell to be biblically accurate. Either none are, or only one is. A determination of the biblical doctrine of hell is instrumental in having a correct doctrinal understanding of what God’s Word teaches on the issue. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to demonstrate the biblical position on hell.

This study will be beneficial to all Christians who desire better doctrinal accuracy and a better understanding of the nature of hell. If the findings of this study are shown by scripture to be correct, the reader will then be able to better understand and communicate the doctrine of hell and they will also be able to better convey the good news of God’s grace found in His son Jesus Christ. A person’s clear understanding of the biblical teachings on hell brings to light even more clearly the news of salvation from such a place, making the question of hell of high importance to answer.

This research is of high value in the discipline of ministry. As it is the teacher’s job to educate students within the context of the local church (as well as in Christian academic institutions), having a proper understanding of God’s Word is vital to accomplish this. This research is also of high importance to this writer, who is himself a youth pastor and thus desirous of the truth of God’s Word in regards to the doctrine of hell.

 

 

 

 

This Study Includes Terms, Limitations, Methodologies and Presuppositions

 

For the purpose of this paper, “hell” is synonymous with the Lake of Fire,[3] rather than Hades or Sheol, the Greek and Hebrew terms used to describe the location of lost souls prior to their ultimate placement in the lake of fire. Hell is to be understood and recognized as the final place of torment for unbelievers, rather than an intermediate stage for lost persons who are awaiting final judgment. “Lost” or “unsaved” persons are those individuals who have “not repented of their sin and embraced saving faith in the person of, the death of, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”[4]

This study comes with several limitations, the first of which is brevity of time spent on this project by the writer; namely, one semester. Furthermore, this writer does not have ready access to a seminary library, but must instead draw upon a small selection of books and online resources. Additionally, while this writer has taken courses in Greek and Hebrew, his understanding of the original languages is not sufficient to be able to draw from the wealth of knowledge written by Greek and Hebrew scholars. Furthermore, this writer has no knowledge of Latin or German, so he will not be able to read from the original writings of the early church Fathers. As a result, this writer’s research will be limited to predominately English works.

While the topic of hell touches upon many other areas of theological banter, this project will limit itself to the one area: the duration of hell. While debate rages concerning the properties and occupants of Hades, as well as the relationship between hell and the Gospel, an exploration and explanation of those sub-topics would far exceed the scope and limitations of this project. Additionally, as time is of the essence in this project, this writer will be forced to work towards a deadline, which may restrict the quantity of data that would eventually come to light. Lastly, this writer will be restricting himself to the use of audio files or written documents, rather than including interviews with leading scholars in the evangelical tradition.

This study will begin by demonstrating the historicity of the doctrine of eternal punishment in hell. The next step will be to document the objections that are coming to the forefront of evangelicalism in light of the topic of hell, be they philosophical or theological. Each point will in turn be addressed by the writer.

This paper rests upon several presuppositions. Firstly, the writer assumes that the reader will share his passion in the area of doctrinal purity. A second assumption about the reader would be their ability to find this writer’s writing easily readable and understandable. Thirdly, this writer assumes that the material will be presented clearly, correctly, and defensibly. This paper will be building an argument, so naturally this writer believes that his position will be the correct one. Lastly, this writer believes that he is able to adequately resolve the difficulties surrounding this doctrine. Failure to do this would, of course, result in a somewhat worthless paper.

As mentioned previously, this writer believes that a real need exists in establishing a solid, accurate biblical understanding of the biblical position on hell. Proper understanding in this area will strengthen one’s own understanding of God’s word, and it may also lead to a better, more effective communication of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This study will show that the Bible does indeed clearly teach an eternal suffering in hell for unsaved persons, rather than a non-eternal suffering.

 

CHAPTER II

HOW IMPORTANT IS THE DOCTRINE OF HELL?

 

In studying the nature of hell, the question may be raised as to how important this particular doctrine is. Some doctrines such as the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture and the doctrine of a post-tribulation clash with one another and result in disagreement among its adherents. Most often, whenever two or more interpretations of scripture exist, it is impossible for them to all be correct. Either one is correct, or they are all wrong. Concerning the doctrine of the Rapture, several viewpoints abound within evangelicalism, but they all share one commonality- a presupposition that the rapture will indeed occur. Non-Christians deny the entirety of the rapture doctrine, but Christians are capable of teaching contradictory positions concerning just how and when the Church will be removed from this world.

Other doctrines offer no leeway for disagreement. The Apostle Paul offers a clear and concise summation of the Gospel- the doctrines that must be believed for one to become a Christian. Those doctrines include the life of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the burial of Jesus, and the resurrection of Jesus.[5] A rejection or disagreement with any of these doctrines is impossible by a true Christian.

The question then, concerning the doctrine of Hell, is just how important it is. Does it little bearing on present reality, such as the differing theories concerning the details of the rapture, or could confusion on this issue be considered a damnable heresy? It is this writer’s contention that though it may be possible for genuine believers to be mistaken about the duration of hell, the doctrine of hell is indeed of fundamental importance to evangelicalism, for two reasons. Orthodoxy in this area leads to a better understanding of God, as well as a better understanding of the gospel.

 

Biblical Knowledge of Hell Leads to a Better Understanding of God

            As God has revealed Himself in the Christian scriptures, there is great importance in learning as much possible about who He is. As there are no other source documents authored by God, the only knowledge we have about Him concerning the nature of Hell is found within the Holy Bible. Thus, a proper understanding of the doctrine of Hell is vital to knowing God better.

 

Accurate Knowledge of Hell Teaches About the Character of God

            One of the more notable attributes of God is that of love. Indeed, scripture teaches that God is love.[6] However, God is also holy[7], just[8], and righteous.[9] All three of these attributes, along with many others, are evidenced in the way that God views sinners. A proper understanding in the way that God punishes those whom sin against Him reveals much of His character. Thus, anyone having a lack of understanding about the true nature of hell is also lacking in their understanding of God.

 

A Correct Doctrine on Hell Helps Readers Know More about God’s Word in General

            As mentioned, the only written book about God that has been authored by God is the Holy Bible.[10] As such, the Bible is an invaluable book that contains the mind of God, particularly concerning His dealings with mankind. It is only by a person’s proper application of God’s Word that orthopraxy, or right practice, is even possible. Therefore, knowledge of God’s Word is instrumental to living in the manner that God has called his people to. Since the doctrine of hell is encapsulated within God’s Word, coming to a proper understanding of hell will overall benefit the reader by letting him or her learn more about the Bible as a whole.

 

Biblical Knowledge of Hell Leads to a Better Understanding of the Gospel and Evangelism

 

            The word “gospel” means “good news”. Evangelically speaking, the term “gospel” is used in reference to the good news that God saves sinners. Scripture teaches that all of mankind is condemned by their sins[11], but God sent His own son as a means of reconciling sinners to Himself.[12] The manner of condemnation into which men fall is intrinsically related to our message of God’s salvation.

 

 

 

The “Bad News” Must be Correct in Order for the “Good News” to be Correct

 

To deny the existence of Hell is to insist that there is no “bad” news, thus negating the need for any “good” news. If there is no eternal punishment for violating God’s laws and refusing to trust upon Christ as one’s Savior, than evangelism may be perceived as a waste of time, as would be any proclamation of the gospel or call to repentance.

 

If There is No Need to Fear Damnation, Perhaps There is No Need to Seek Salvation

 

If there is no hell, there is no need for anyone to want to be saved, since there is nothing to be saved from. To be fair, though, not all theologians who deny an eternal hell endorse Universalism, the doctrine that God will ultimately save all of mankind. Therefore, there are still evangelistic Christians who deny an eternal hell, though their gospel differs from hell-affirmers in that according to them, hell is nothing to be feared as eternal, but rather temporary. Still, as reconciliation to God is preferable to not existing at all, proponents of annihilationism still have reason to evangelize the lost.

 

 

 

CHAPTER III

IS THE DOCTRINE OF ETERNAL HELL A NEW CONCEPT?

Doctrinal purity has always been the desire of the New Testament church, and it is even a precedent observed in the scriptures themselves.[13] Regarding the concept of eternal punishment in hell, the question must be asked as to the doctrine’s origins. Have believers throughout history affirmed this doctrine, or is it of recent appearance, such as the prosperity or charismatic movements? That is not to say that a new doctrine is automatically suspect, but rather that 2000 years of church history has been enough time to gain a firm grasp on the key tenets of scripture. Indeed, research shows that belief in an eternal hell has been largely normative among the Christian church.

 

Belief in Eternal Hell Existed Two Millenniums Ago

 

When trying to reach an understanding of God’s Word, one must always check their interpretation and weigh it against the consensus of church history. If said person’s interpretation of a passage is radically different from the interpretation held by the majority of believers over the past 2000 years, there is a good chance that said interpretation is faulty. Thus it is important to see if the church, by and large, has historically believed in the existence of an eternal hell.

 

Biblical Authors Taught the Existence of Hell

 

Perhaps the most important and weightiest evidence in the historical belief in hell is the scriptures themselves. As scripture is inspired by God, the words of the biblical writers reflect God’s own words and are therefore true. The question, then, is whether or not the biblical writers themselves taught about an eternal hell. The answer to this question is a resounding “yes.”

Several authors of the scriptures endorsed an eternal hell as they recorded the words of Jesus as he spoke on the subject. Matthew shares with us how Jesus spoke of being cast into “everlasting fire”.[14] Mark quotes Jesus as he spoke of “eternal damnation”.[15] Luke shares with us the words of Christ when Jesus taught on a rich man in hell being “tormented in flames”.[16] John also quoted Jesus as referring to a “resurrection of damnation”, in opposition to a resurrection of life.[17]

In addition to many of the biblical authors sharing Jesus’ views on eternal hell, many of them also espoused the same view themselves. The writer John, in reference to those in hell, speaks of “the smoke of their torment ascending up for ever and ever”[18], clearly indicating an eternal punishment of the lost. Paul speaks in Romans 9:22-23 of the “destruction” of vessels of wrath, an analogy he draws for lost persons. Though the term “destruction” seems to contradict the idea of eternal punishment, arguments have been made from the original Greek that indicates the endlessness of the term.[19]

 

Many Church Fathers Also Taught Eternal Hell

Not only is there clear evidence that the writers of the scriptures believed in an eternal hell, historical documents also demonstrate the prevalence of this belief among many of the ancient church Fathers. Pertaining to the early Fathers, J. Kelly says that “As regards to the fate of the wicked…the general view was that their punishment would be eternal, without the possibility of remission.”[20] The most notable exception to this general consensus was Origen, and perhaps also Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa.[21] According to Richard Mayhue of The Master’s Seminary, “by the fifth century, the doctrine of everlasting punishment in hell was not seriously challenged.”[22]

 

Belief in Eternal Hell Still Exists Today

 

Over the centuries, various heretical ideas within Christendom have come and gone. The doctrine of hell is not such a doctrine. Finding its roots in the clear teachings of the Bible and becoming anchored by the ancient church Fathers, the doctrine of an eternal hell is still widely believed and taught.

 

Many Denominations Believe in an Eternal Hell

One need not look far to realize that the doctrine of an eternal hell is not merely a doctrine espoused by a smattering of individuals. Entire denominations have included within their doctrinal statement an affirmation of an eternal punishment in Hell for the lost. The Westminster Confession of Faith, the foundational doctrinal statement affirmed by most Presbyterian denominations, clearly states that “the wicked who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.”[23]

Baptists have also historically affirmed the doctrine of an eternal hell. The Southern Baptist Convention, the world’s largest Baptist denomination, affirms that “the unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment.”[24]

Many Academic Institutions Believe in an Eternal Hell

In addition to individuals and denominations, a belief in an eternal hell is prevalent among many of the leading seminaries in the country. Dallas Theological Seminary’s doctrinal statement says, “the spirits and souls of the unbelieving remain after death conscious of condemnation and in misery until the final judgment of the great white throne at the close of the millennium, when soul and body reunited shall be cast into the lake of fire, not to be annihilated, but to be punished with everlasting destruction.”[25]

All of the seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention, espousing the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, naturally teach the historic doctrine of Hell, as does Westminster Theological Seminary and many smaller schools and seminaries.

 

Many Scholars and Theologians Today Believe in an Eternal Hell

As academic institutions and denominations teach students and congregants the biblical position on hell, it naturally follows that today scholars and theologians alike are still defending the doctrine. This is further proof that this doctrine did not arise within a vacuum, nor does it live there now, as is demonstrable in the academic field of theological research.

Not only are conservative seminaries dedicated to teaching the doctrine of eternal hell, but many of their faculty members also contribute to the field of knowledge on the subject. The Master’s Seminary, for example, published within their journal an entire series of articles on the nature and duration of Hell. Compelling arguments were made by their scholars concerning the theology of hell[26]  as well as the duration of hell.[27] Similarly, other scholars have made valuable contributions to the debate concerning the properties and duration of hell such as Roy Zuck[28] and J.I. Packer.[29] Given the historicity, tenacity, and publicity of the doctrine of an eternal hell, it comes as no surprise that many ordinary pastors today still preach the existence of an eternal hell, to include this writer.

 

 

 

CHAPTER IV

THE DOCTRINE OF AN ETERNAL HELL IS NOW QUESTIONED

A perusal of Christian literature would show that in recent history, the doctrine of hell as recognized throughout church history is now under attack. This is not surprising in itself, as all of the major tenets of Christianity have always been attacked, scoffed at, or simply disbelieved. What is surprising, though, is that these recent attacks upon the doctrine of hell have come from within the church. As Wilko van Holten surmises, the doctrine of hell “does not seem to enjoy much popularity among believers.”[30] Perhaps the two most noted theories in antithesis to an eternal hell are the ideas of universalism and annihilationism.

Universalism teaches, in one form or another, that all souls will go “into a life of eternal bliss in the hereafter”[31]. Some proponents of this idea believe that this may occur immediately upon death,[32] while others maintain that only after the resurrection will all souls receive eternal life.[33] The end result is that no one will ever be damned, but that all will be saved.

Annihilationism, on the other hand, does not teach that all will be saved, but nor does it adhere to an idea of eternal punishment for the lost. Simple annihilationism, a view espoused by the famous atheist Bertrand Russell, teaches that a human being ceases to exist at the moment of death.[34] Other views of annihilation teach that unsaved people cease to exist at the resurrection. This position is the more common one in annihilationist circles, and it is also affirmed by Jehovah’s Witnesses and a few other groups.[35] While a response to each of these positions would far exceed the scope of this paper, the aforementioned examples show the plethora of ideas that are abounding in opposition to the idea of an eternal hell.

 

Some Objections to an Eternal Hell are Grounded in Philosophy

 

Naturally, for a supposed Christian to find fault with a given doctrine that has been historically accepted, they must themselves find grievance with said doctrine. One of the more common objections to an eternal hell is found in the philosophy underlying the concept. More specifically, the love of God and the nature of eternal punishment are questioned.

 

Some Say that God’s Love is Contrary to an Eternal Hell

One of the leading arguments against an eternal hell is that the concept is contradictory to the nature of God’s love. According to Clark Pinnock and Robert Brow, “love is what characterizes God essentially”[36] The key component in this argument is that God’s love for all men is at complete odds with God condemning a person to a burning hell for all eternity. As Larry Pettegrew words it, “God’s love [apparently] serves as an immovable roadblock to such a doctrine.”[37] Pinnock’s opinion reflects this philosophy as he wonders, “How can we think for a minute that torturing people without end is the sort of thing that the God and father of Jesus would do?”[38] He has also said, “Christian theology simply cannot depict God acting like a bloodthirsty monster who maintains an everlasting Auschwitz for his enemies whom he will not even allow to die.”[39]

 

Some Say That Eternal Hell is Too Harsh a Punishment

While some theologians would argue that an eternal hell contradicts God’s love, still others maintain that an eternal Hell is simply too harsh a punishment for a human being. Pinnock says, “The fact that we have sinned against an infinite God does not justify an infinite penalty.”[40] Indeed, some have even said that God’s meting out an eternal punishment would make him “less than perfect.”[41]

 

Some Objections to an Eternal Hell are Grounded in Theology

 

Objections to an eternal hell are not made solely upon the basis of philosophy. Some arguments find their basis in scripture- or at least, within one’s interpretation of scripture. As mentioned previously, many theologians object to the idea of hell, yet still adhere to the Bible as being God’s word. Thus, they must reach an understanding of what the Bible teaches concerning hell. As a result, arguments have been formed that impose a new meaning not only on biblical terms, but also upon entire passages.

 

Debate Has Arisen Concerning the Meaning of Key Terms

Words have meaning, and if the meaning is misunderstood than confusion ensues. Concerning the matter of hell, biblical words long understood as meaning one thing are now being argued as meaning another. Such words would include “death”, “destruction”, “fire”, and “eternity”.[42] If the true meanings of these words are revealed to differ from the historically accepted definitions, than entire doctrines would be erred, to include the doctrine of hell.

 

Debate Has Arisen Concerning the Meanings of Entire Passages

There are several key passages in which the biblical author alludes to an eternal damnation in hell. There are certain passages in the book of Revelation, for example, that “unmistakably attest[s] to the reality of the irreversible consequences of divine judgment.”[43] However, if those passages are misinterpreted in the first place, as some surmise, than the resulting doctrines are simply incorrect.

 

CHAPTER V

THE DOCTRINE OF AN ETERNAL HELL STILL STANDS

Despite recent attempts to dismantle the historically accepted doctrine of an eternal hell, the validity of an eternal hell is far too well established to crumble. As S. Lewis Johnson puts it, “It is doubtful that there is a doctrine in the Bible easier to prove than that of eternal punishment.”[44] Though numerous objections have arisen concerning the nature of God, the nature of the punishment of hell, definitions of biblical words, and the meanings of certain key passages, arguments also abound that support the authority of the doctrine.

 

The Bible Demonstrates the Existence of Hell

 

The most important testament to any given belief, be it held by an individual, denomination, or Christendom as a whole, is the testimony of God’s Word. Naturally, if the Bible does not teach eternal damnation, there is no need for a person to believe or endorse the idea. However, the Bible does have much to say about the nature of punishment that God inflicts upon impenitent sinners. Careful examination of God’s Word shows that hell is indeed eternal.

 

 

 

Key Biblical Passages Demonstrate the Existence of Hell

 

Though critics of an eternal hell have a wide variety of passage to debate, such as 2 Thessalonians 1:9,[45] Matthew 25:46, Mark 9:43, John 3:36, and Revelation 14:10-11, this writer has found little effort put forth on behalf of those who would disagree with the historical understanding of said passages. Rather, the bulk of the opposing sides’ arguments is an appeal to logic and philosophy. This is not surprising, given the strength of the biblical text and the tenacity of biblical scholars. Various works abound that exposit key Old Testament and New Testament passages, bringing to light a picture of hell that remains unchanged through time. Exegetical treatises by scholars such as Robert Peterson,[46] Harry Buis,[47] and many others show from God’s word the reality of hell. Trevor Craigen of The Master’s Seminary presents a compelling argument from the book of Revelation that “rules out…any attempt to determine punishment as temporary.”[48]

 

Key Biblical Terms Demonstrate the Existence of Hell

Though critics of an eternal hell have tried to redefine key terms in the biblical record, they have been unsuccessful in their endeavors. Concerning the word “everlasting”, Robert Thomas demonstrates how “efforts to tone down the force of [everlasting] cannot sidestep the absolute idea of eternity in connection with Jesus’ teachings of eternal punishment.”[49] “Fire” and “punishment” have also withstood tests against their historical meaning,[50] as have the words “destruction”[51] and “eternal”.[52] There is a plethora of research supporting these findings.

 

Reason Supports the Existence of Hell

 

Contrary to claims that one cannot both affirm God’s love as well as the existence of an eternal hell,[53] there is no logical reason to deny the existence of hell. Many of the objections to hell are based upon faulty reason. To demand that a God of love cannot also be a God of justice is to “reduce God’s nature to love.”[54] Not only is it difficult to accurately elevate any one particular attribute of God over another,[55] but doing so forces a set of “control beliefs” upon the individual doing so. Says  Pettegrew, “Such arguments …clearly demonstrate that evangelical annihilationists cannot take the Scripture passages on hell at face value.”[56] In other words, non-proponents of an eternal hell first form their presuppositions and then guide their understanding of scripture upon said presuppositions. Naturally this would lead to difficulties in interpreting scriptures that seemingly contradict one’s understanding of God and how he has chosen to address sin and punishment. Careful observation of the Bible, though, reveals pure consistency between God’s attributes and eternal punishment.

 

An Eternal Hell is Consistent with the Character of God

As God is omniscient[57], omnipotent[58], and the sovereign ruler of the universe,[59] rules are certainly His to make. Scripture teaches that the penalty of sin is separation from God,[60] and also that God provided a means of forgiveness through faith in the work and person of his son.[61] Scripture also tells us that because God is just, he cannot merely excuse a sinner for their transgressions.[62] Therefore, God’s justice and holiness is perfectly satisfied in the damnation of impenitent sinners as they receive the due punishment for their crimes against him. The existence of an eternal hell in no way compromises any of the attributes of God.

 

An Eternal Hell is Consistent with the Nature of Sin

One of God’s attributes also clearly seen in his interactions with sinful men is his holiness.[63] The very nature of God’s perfection demands that he separate himself from sin. Though some theologians declare that human sin isn’t worthy of eternal damnation, this writer would argue that it is not mankind’s place to determine the gravity of its disobedience to God, but rather to let God determine the consequences, as he has.

Furthermore the issue is raised that “ongoing rebellion against God deserves ongoing punishment.”[64] As Pettegrew points out, there is no biblical evidence that anyone in hell ever stops rebelling against God, therefore their punishment would also never end, nor would their guilt.[65] Despite the arguments against infinitely punishing sin, there is no compelling evidence that doing so would be wrong or over-reactive on God’s part. As Todd Mangum puts it, “it is never cruel for God to enforce penalties appropriate to crimes committed.”[66]

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER VI

CONCLUSION

Though certainly not one of the most beloved doctrines in scripture, the evidence reveals that the church has been correct in its adherence to the existence of an eternal hell. This belief is not due to a sadistic desire to see sinners punished for all eternity, but rather is the somber truth as revealed by God in scripture.

 

The Doctrine of Hell Greatly Impacts Evangelicalism

 

Daunting though the task may be of establishing the validity of an eternal hell, it is only by living in the reality of this doctrine that a Christian is able to have a better knowledge of God and his character, as well as a better knowledge of God’s word in general. If there is an eternal punishment in hell for sinners refusing to trust in Christ as their savior, a greater urgency arises in the church’s evangelistic efforts.

 

The Doctrine of Hell Has Always Been Normative

 

As this study has demonstrated, belief in an eternal punishment in hell has existed for thousands of years. Ample evidence of this abounds within the pages of the Bible, as well as in the writings of the earliest church Fathers. The belief in an eternal hell has withstood the tests of time and remains in place even today within whole denominations, institutions of higher learning, and churches all across the world.

 

Attacks Against the Doctrine of Hell Are Without Merit

 

Though recently history shows an increasing trend in the rejection of an eternal hell, there is no strong evidence that such a move should be made. Though the love of God and the nature of an eternal punishment have been called into question, the truth remains that God’s attributes are not invalidated with the idea of hell, nor is it wrong of him to infinitely punish those who are infinitely guilty.

Attempts have been made by skeptics to argue certain passages and key terms in the debate, but scholastic rebuttals have shown that God’s Word is clear in its teachings. Hell is real, and it is eternal. There is no valid reason to believe otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 

Badham, Paul. “Reflections on the Craig-Flew Debate.” Modern Believing 49, no. 3 (July 2008): 25-36.

 

Bligh, Philip H. “Eternal Fire, Eternal Punishment, Eternal Life.” Expository Times 83 (January 1971): 9-11.

 

Brow, Robert C. and Pinnock, Clark. Unbounded Love. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 1994.

 

Buchanan, James M. “Cheerful News About Hell.” Christian Century 125, no. 11 (June 2008): 3.

 

Buis, Harry. The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1957.

 

Cheetham, David. “Hell as Potentially Temporal.” Expository Times 108 (January 1997): 260-263.

 

Clayton, James W. “Hell and the Victorians: A Study of the 19th Century Theological Controversies Concerning Eternal Punishment and the Future Life.” Church History 44, no. 2 (June 1975): 265.

 

Craigen, Trevor P. “Eternal Punishment in John’s Revelation.” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9, no. 2 (Fall 1998): 191-201.

 

Crockett, William ed., Four Views on Hell. Grand Rapids: Intervarsity, 1992.

 

Dulles, Avery R. “The Population of Hell.” First Things 133 (May 2003): 36-41.

 

Eno, Robert B. “The Fathers and the Cleansing Fire.” Irish Theological Quarterly 53 (January 1987): 184-202.

 

Erickson, Millard J. Where is Theology Going? Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.

 

Frantz, Ira H. “Life.” Brethren Life and Thought 20, no. 2 (Spring 1975): 69-74.

 

Fudge, Edward. “The Final End of the Wicked.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 27, no. 3 (Summer 1984): 325-334.

 

Grenholm, Cristina. “The One Purpose of God: An Answer to the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment.” Interpretation 53, no. 3 (July 1999)” 322.

 

Grounds, Vernon C. “The Final State of the Wicked.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 24, no. 3 (Spring 1981): 211-220.

 

Holmes, Stephen R. “The Justice of Hell and the Display of God’s Glory in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards.” Pro Ecclesia 9, no. 4 (Fall 2000): 389-403.

 

Holten, Wilko van. “Can the Traditional View of Hell be Defended? An Evaluation of Some Arguments for Eternal Punishment.” Anglican Theological Review 85, no. 3 (Summer 2003): 457-476.

 

Johnson, S. Lewis. “God Gave Them Up.” Bibliotheca Sacra 129 (April-June 1972): 124-133.

 

Kelly, J.N.D. Early Christian Doctrines. San Francisco: Harper, 1976.

 

Linfield, Alan M. “Sheep and Goats: Current Evangelical Thought on the Nature of Hell and the Scope of Salvation.” Evangelical Review of Theology 21, no. 1 (January 1997): 51-62.

 

Macouarrie, John. “Death and Eternal Life.” Expository Times 89 (January 1977): 46-48.

 

Madsen, Catherine. “Notes on God’s Violence.” Cross Currents 51, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 229-256.

 

Mangum, R. T. “Three Models of Hell.” Christianity Today 51, no. 2 (Fall 2007): 118.

 

Marshall, Howard I. “Uncomfortable Words: ‘Fear Him who can Destroy Both Soul and Body in Hell’.” Expository Times 81 (January 1970): 276-280.

 

Mayhue, Richard. “Hell: Never, Forever, or Just for Awhile?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9, no. 2 (Fall 1998): 129-145.

 

Moltmann, Jurgen. “The End of Everything is God: Has Belief in Hell Had Its Day?” Expository Times 108 (January 1997): 263-264.

 

Moody, Raymond A. Life After Death. Carmel, NY: Guideposts, 1975.

 

Morey, Robert A. Death and the Afterlife. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany, 1984.

 

Morgan, Christopher W. “Two Views of Hell: A Biblical and Theological Dialogue.” Journal of the Evangelical Society 45, no. 4 (December 2002): 727-730.

 

Murray, J. “The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment.” Westminster Theological Journal 21, no. 1 (November 1958): 98-99.

 

O’Conner, Feargus. “The Nature of Hell.” Faith and Freedom 54, no. 2 (Autumn-Winter 2001): 171-174.

 

Packer, J.I. “Hell’s Final Enigma: Won’t Heaven’s Joy be Spoiled by our Awareness of Unsaved Loved Ones in Hell?” Christianity Today 46, no. 5 (April 2002): 84.

 

Parker, David. “The Nature of Hell.” Evangelical Review of Theology 27, no. 3 (July 2003): 275-276.

 

Peoples, Glenn. “Fallacies in the Annihilationism Debate: A Critique of Robert Peterson and Other Traditionalist Scholarship.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 50, no. 2 (June 2007): 329-347.

 

Percy, Martyn. “Go to Hell.” Modern Believing 44, no. 3 (July 2003): 2-5.

 

Peterson, Robert. Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1995.

 

Pettegrew, Larry D. “A Kinder, Gentler Theology of Hell?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9, no. 2 (Fall 1998): 203-217.

 

Pilkington, John. “After the Crematorium: What?” Expository Times 107 (January 1996): 367-370.

 

Pinnock, Clark H. “The Nature of Hell.” Ex Auditu 20 (2004): 47-59.

 

Purcell, Boyd C. “Spiritual Terrorism.” American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine 15 (May 1998): 167-173.

 

Pyne, Robert A. “Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment.” Presbyterian 25, no. 1 (Spring 1999): 63-64.

 

Quarles, Charles L. “The ‘APO of 2 Thessalonians 1:9 and the Nature of Eternal Punishment.” Westminster Theological Journal 59, no. 2 (Fall 1997): 201-211.

 

Ramirez. Frank. “What Does the Bible really Say About Hell? Wrestling with the Traditional View.” Brethren Life and Thought 48, no. 1-2 (Winter-Spring 2003): 110-112.

 

Robinson, John A.T. In the End God. London: James Clarke, 1950.

 

Rosscup, James E. “Paul’s Concept of Eternal Punishment.” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9, no. 2 (Fall 1998): 169-189.

 

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000. http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp [accessed April 30, 2010].

 

Thomas, Robert L. “Jesus’ View of Eternal Punishment.” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9, no. 2 (Fall 1998): 147-267.

 

Toner, Patrick. “Divine Judgment and the Nature of Time.” Faith and Philosophy 22, no. 3 (July 2005): 316-329.

 

Van Horn, Michael A. “Response to Pinnock.” Ex Auditu 20 ( 2004): 60-64.

 

Ward, Julian. “The Nature of Hell.” Journal of the European Pentecostal Theological Association 20 (2000): 138-141.

 

Wenham, John W. The Case for Conditional Immorality. Edited by Nigel M. de S. Cameron. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992.

 

Westminster Confession of Faith. http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/ [accessed April 30, 2010].

 

White, Thomas Joseph. “On the Universal Possibility of Salvation.”  Pro Ecclesia 17, no. 3 (Summer 2008): 269-280.

 

Williams, Stephen N. “The Question of Hell and Salvation: Is There a Forth View?” Tyndale Bulletin 57, no. 2 (2006): 263-283.

 

Woodcock, Eldon. “Images of Hell in the Tours of Hell: Are They True?” Criswell Theological Review 3, no. 1 (Fall 2005): 11-42.

 

Zuck, Roy B. “Hell Under Fire.” Bibliotheca Sacra 162, no. 648 (October-December 2005): 11-42.


     1. Richard L. Mayhue, “Hell: Never, Forever, or Just for Awhile?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 132.

 

     2. Ibid., 129.

     3. Rev. 20:11-15 KJV

 

     4.  Richard L. Mayhue, “Hell: Never, Forever, or Just for Awhile?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 130.

 

     5. 1 Cor. 15:1-4

     6. 1 John 4:8

 

     7. Isaiah 6:3

 

     8. Romans 6:23

 

     9. Daniel 9:14

      10. 2 Tim. 3:16

 

      11. Romans 5:12

 

      12. 2 Cor. 5:18

     13. Acts 17:11

     14. Matt. 18:8

 

     15. Mark  3:29

 

     16. Luke 16:24

 

     17. John 5:29

 

     18. Revelation 14:11

     19. James E. Rosscup, “Paul’s Concept of Eternal Punishment,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 179.

 

     20. J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines [San Francisco: Harper, 1976], 483.

 

     21. Richard L. Mayhue, “Hell: Never, Forever, or Just for Awhile?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 132.

 

     22. Ibid., 132.

     23. WCF, 33.2

 

     24. BFM 2000, X

     25. DTS Doctrinal Statement, XX

 

      26. Larry D. Pettegrew, “A Kinder, Gentler Theology of Hell?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 203-217.

      27. Richard L. Mayhue, “Hell: Never, Forever, or Just for Awhile?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 129-145.

     28. Roy B. Zuck, “Hell Under Fire.” Bibliotheca Sacra 162, no. 648 (October-December 2005): 11-42.

 

     29. J.I. Packer, “Hell’s Final Enigma: Won’t Heaven’s Joy be Spoiled by our Awareness of Unsaved Loved Ones in Hell?” Christianity Today 46, no. 5 (April 2002): 84.

     30. Wilko von Holten, “Can the Traditional View of Hell be Defended? An Evaluation of Some Arguments for Eternal Punishment,” Anglican Theological Review 85 (3): 457.

 

     31. Richard L. Mayhue, “Hell: Never, Forever, or Just for Awhile?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 135.

 

     32. Raymond A. Moody, Life After Death [Carmel, New York: Guideposts, 1975].

 

     33. John A.T. Robinson, In the End God [London: James Clarke, 1950].

     34. Richard L. Mayhue, “Hell: Never, Forever, or Just for Awhile?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 135.

 

     35. Ibid.

 

     36. Clark Pinnock and Robert C. Brow, Unbounded Love [Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 1994], 45.

     37. Larry D. Pettegrew, “A Kinder, Gentler Theology of Hell?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 208.

 

     38. Clark Pinnock, “The Nature of Hell,” Ex Auditu 20 (2004): 55.

 

     39. Ibid.

 

     40. Clark Pinnock, “The Conditional View,” in Four Views on Hell, ed. By William Crockett [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992], 152.

 

     41. Catherine Madsen, “Notes on God’s Violence,” Cross Currents 51, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 229-256.

     42. Richard L. Mayhue, “Hell: Never, Forever, or Just for Awhile?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 141.

 

     43. Trevor P. Craigen, “Eternal Punishment in John’s Revelation,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 203.

     44. S. Lewis Johnson, “God Gave Them Up,” Bibliotheca Sacra (April-June 1972): 131.

     45. Edward Fudge, The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of Final Punishment [Houston: Providential, 1982].

 

     46. Robert Peterson, Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment [Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1995].

 

     47. Harry Buis, The Doctrine of Eternal Punishment [Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1957].

 

     48. Trevor P. Craigen, “Eternal Punishment in John’s Revelation,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 194.

     49. Robert Thomas, “Jesus’ View of Eternal Punishment,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 165.

 

     50. Ibid.

 

     51. James E. Rosscup, “Paul’s Concept of Eternal Punishment,” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 178.

 

     52. Ibid., 186.

 

     53. Paul Badham, “Reflections on the Craig-Flew Debate,” Modern Believing 49, no. 3 (July 2008): 33.

 

     54. Larry D. Pettegrew, “A Kinder, Gentler Theology of Hell?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 208.

 

55. Ibid., 210.

 

     56. Ibid., 209.

     57. Ps. 147:5

 

58. Job 42:2

 

     59. Ps. 50:12

 

     60. Rom. 6:23

 

     61. John 3:16-18

 

     62. Pro. 17:15

 

     63. Isaiah 6:3

 

64. Larry D. Pettegrew, “A Kinder, Gentler Theology of Hell?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 217.

 

     65. Larry D. Pettegrew, “A Kinder, Gentler Theology of Hell?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 (Fall 1998): 217.

 

66. Todd Mangum, “Three Models of Hell,” Christianity Today 51, no. 2 (Fall 2007): 118.

 

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