Portuguese Translation

I just got word that translation on a Portuguese edition of Is There Anything Good About Hell? has begun by a Brazilian pastor and his network. I am humbled and thankful! More info to come in the months ahead.

Free Ch. 6 Download: Woe to Those Who Harm

Chapter 6, “Woe to Those Who Harm,” is now available as a free download. The chapter argues that given evil, a full defence of the image of God in man, especially of the vulnerable, requires an eternal hell.

The chapter begins,

The strongest saints and the strongest sceptics alike took positive evil as the starting-point of their argument. If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.G. K. Chesterton
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Amazon.ca Best-Seller

It’s a wonderful blessing to see Is There Anything Good About Hell? selling so well in Canada. Recently it hit #1 in its category (Systematic Theology) on Amazon in Canada, and #4 in Christian theology overall with the release of the Kindle E-book. Thanks everyone.

Cyril of Alexandria on the Motivation of Hell

Part of my morning exercises over the last year is reading through Cyril of Alexandria’s commentary on John (not that I always get to it daily). Cyril, like most other Early Church Fathers, was quick to speak about eternal punishment. In his commentary on John 8:21, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin,” Cyril notes that Jesus is speaking warning here in order to graciously turn people away from hell.

For to die unredeemed, yet laden with the weight of sin, to whom is it any doubt where this will conduct the soul of man? For deep Hades will, I deem, receive such an one, and he will continue in great darkness, yea he will inhabit fire and flames, with reason numbered among those of whom it has been said by Prophet’s voice, Their worm shall not die neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be for a sight to all flesh. Whereof that they may escape the trial, Christ kept manifoldly calling them to a speedy turning away from their wonted unbelief, saying not only that He should leave them and go away, but also of necessity putting before them how great misfortune they will thence undergo.Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on the Gospel according to S. John, vol. 1 (Oxford; London: James Parker & Co.; Rivingtons, 1874), 580.

Top 5: Understanding Hell

So you want to understand hell better? Assuming you have already read Is There Anything Good About Hell? these are my top five recommendations. I have purposefully chosen a mix of five books that will capture some of the breadth of the doctrine of eternal punishment. Some of these excel in biblical exegesis and defense of the doctrine, while others provide the foundational logic and presuppositional philosophy necessary in rightly comprehending this most sober subject. Honorable mention goes to Blanchard's Whatever Happened to Hell?

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Brooks on Hell: Oh, bless Christ! Oh, kiss Christ!

Thomas Brooks is one of the greatest theologians of hell in Christian history. He remarks in “The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures,” that contemplating hell results in a greater love and appreciation for Christ:

If there be a hell, then, Christians, spend your days in admiring and in being greatly affected with the transcendent love of Christ, in undergoing hellish punishments in our steads. Oh pray, pray hard that you ‘may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of that love of Christ which passeth knowledge,’ Eph. 3:18, 19,—of that love of Christ that put him upon these corporeal and spiritual sufferings which were so exceeding great, acute, extreme, universal and continual, and all to save us from wrath to come, 1 Thes. 1:10. Christ’s outward and inward miseries, sorrows, and sufferings are not to be paralleled, and therefore Christians have the more cause to lose themselves in the contemplation of his matchless love. Oh, bless Christ! oh, kiss Christ! oh, embrace Christ! oh, welcome Christ! oh, cleave to Christ! oh, follow Christ! oh, walk with Christ! oh, long for Christ! who for your sakes hath undergone insupportable wrath and most hellish torments,Continue reading

Top 3: Exodus Resources

This top three has little to do with hell--at least specifically. I am preaching through the book of Exodus, and its been wonderful growing in my knowledge of the degree to which Exodus, its language, and its themes, impact the rest of the scriptures. It's truly remarkable. So I present a top three resources on the book of Exodus with a particular view to seeing some themes and connections you may not have seen before.

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Reformation21 Review of “Crux, Mors, Inferi” by Renihan

Reformation21 has published my review of Samuel Renihan’s “Crux, Mors, Inferi”. It begins

Samuel Renihan has recently published an excellent book on the doctrine of the descent of Christ into hell. His thesis—that Christ descended to hell on the Sabbath, as stated in the ancient creeds—is one with which I was in agreement prior to reading it. What surprised me was how helpful it was devotionally.

Please check out the review: https://www.reformation21.org/blog/crux-mors-inferi and consider purchasing the book.

Sermon: The Joy of Judgment

It was a joy preaching at Westlynne Baptist in North Vancouver, where my good friends Sam and Esther Chua minister. The text was Isaiah 30:27-33 and the title was “The Joy of Judgment.”

Degrees of Punishment in Hell

In chapter 7 of Is There Anything Good About Hell?, I argue briefly that there are degrees of punishment in hell precisely because there are degrees of sin.

It is a serious error of Christian doctrine to make all sins equal in the sight of God, and it is surprising just how prevalent this error is in Christian circles. If all other things are equal, rape is more heinous to God than lust, although both are sins of sexual violence. Murder is more abhorrent to the Lord than anger, though they are cut from the same cloth (Mt 5:21–22, Jas 4:1–2). False teaching is more odious than ignorance, though they are offspring of the same deceiver. What is important in light of the variation in hell’s degrees of punishment is that we preserve the truth that “whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it” (Jas 2:10).

Recently, I stumbled across an excellent and concise essay at The Gospel Coalition by Albert Martin and Fred Zaspel that does an excellent job of explaining the rationality of hell’s degrees of punishment. It probably doesn’t warrant an entry into the literature database, but it is worth a bit of your time. Some excerpts are selected below.

Top 5: Building Theological Depth

For this top five, I want to share five books referenced in Is There Anything Good About Hell? which could help establish a younger or less mature believer in some deeper theological thinking. None of these are about hell or punishment itself and I have deliberately not included longer works: systematic theologies, commentaries, or other reference-type works. I also ruled out sermon compilations, or larger collated works (no Jonathan Edwards or Charnock here). If when you think of theological books, you are a toe-dipper, think of this top five as the moment you take a breath and submerge under the water. It may take a moment to acclimatize, but when you do it will be so much better!

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“Peerless”: Review of Hartman’s Divine Penology

Decretum Books will soon be re-publishing L. B. Hartman’s phenomenal book on justice and hell, Divine Penology (public domain), which will include a biographical introduction. This has been a fascinating project, as no significant biography of Hartman exists at present. Appendix B in the new publication is a glowing review from Christian Work: Illustrated Family Newspaper, Vol. 67, in 1899, which captures many of my own thoughts about the work, idiosyncratic as it is. It is printed here in hopes it will whet your appetite for this “peerless” treatise.

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