C.S. Lewis postulated a view of Hell that says human sin is a person’s way of telling God to go away throughout life. Hell then is God’s way of saying okay, have it your way.
Hell is the final destination of the unrepentant sinner—the wicked—in God’s economy. Sheol, Gehenna, or Hades, all name an eternal condition contrasted with heaven in the Bible. Countless horrific images have been developed to describe the location or conditions of Hell and, no surprise here, many different theological interpretations have arisen through the centuries regarding the idea of Hell. Also unsurprising is the lack of attention Hell receives on Sunday morning. Hell becomes more culturally unpopular as the insistence on tolerance and accommodation works its way into the Church and sermons and teaching shy away from any topic that threatens to bring on the stamp of intolerant.
There are four general views of Hell that persist within the Christian theological community. Some originate in exegetical interpretation while others are more theological in nature. The views are categorized as the Orthodox position (hell is eternal punishment), the Metaphorical view (diminishes the punishment aspect), Purgatory (a place where divine cleansing takes place), and an very open view named the Conditional position which can describe both Universalism and Annihilationism. Separate posts will discuss each of these positions.
The view that the Christian adopts regarding Hell has an effect on numerous other aspects of life. A universalist belief, for example, will remove any sense of urgency with regard to the Great Commission. Though the modern Church may choose to avoid it, Christians who take their faith and theology seriously should not succumb to that intellectual laziness. Join me as we explore the Scriptures.
Image Giampalo Macorig