Interview with Laura-Lynn Thompson

I joined my good friend Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson on her show earlier today to talk about some of my advocacy as well as introducing Is There Anything Good About Hell? I encourage you to check out Laura-Lynn’s shows. Whether you find you agree or disagree with her and her guests, she is a bold truth-teller and consistently has high quality and knowledgeable guests on her shows discussing stories that won’t be in the mainstream media.

My segment starts at approximately 38:30.

The Sow37 Podcast “Page-Turner” Interview with Robin Martens

I had a blast (is that allowed when you are discussing hell?) talking about eternal punishment with Pastor Robin Martens at Kinnaird Park Community Church in Castlegar. He has been doing a fantastic series on the topic of hell, and we discussed the thesis of my book. Around half-way through the episode I give a brief rundown of the six reasons (chapter 5-10) why hell is “good”, which may be helpful. Even if you don’t listen to me, I encourage you to check out a theologically rich, in-depth podcast by a brother who has a heart for the truths of God’s word. Oh, and he called the book a “page-turner”, which for a theologically-intense book is pretty much the nicest thing anyone could say about. So there’s that.

https://sow37.podbean.com/e/s3-e10-whats-up-with-hell-a-defense-and-theology-pt-4-hell-is-good/

PS: Also check out Robin’s episode with my good friend Barton Priebe.

Justice and Mercy: A Reply to Thomas Talbott, Robert Holyer

Not many answers, but some penetrating philosophical questions for Talbott and his account of "justice" in his universalism.

No posts found.

Excerpts

287
I shall confine myself to his claims about the relation of justice and mercy, which are not only central to the essay but also probably the weakest and least developed part of his larger project of defending the universalist view of salvation.
288
Normally, one of the essential differences between the two concepts is that justice is based on desert whereas forgiveness is not. Talbott, however, insists that mercy and justice are both deserved, that God is obligated to forgive us.
290
Retributive justice is a matter of settling for less than the best, of bringing a measure of truth and equality when the deed and some of its consequences cannot be undone. We execute a murderer or imprison a rapist not to restore the victim, but to settle accounts when restoration is not possible. And in this justice of the appropriate sort is done.
291
Talbott  is right, there is something odd about saying that punishment 'cancels' the crime, and retributivists have often been guilty of such talk. However, I think there is something equally odd about the suggestion that future reconciliation and restoration 'cancels' the crime.
294
In other words, what Talbott needs to develop is a notion of justice. Without it, claims that mercy and justice require the same thing are at best premature. Indeed, without it, one worries that Talbott may not be interested in advancing serious claims about justice at all.

The Most Encouraging Book About Hell Ever, Thor Ramsey

Engaging popular level book on why hell glorifies God. The doctrine is good, the humour is... usually good.

No posts found.

Excerpts

Introduction
The new doctrine of hell, as you’ll see, is simply not effective: “Repent or… nothing of serious consequence will happen to you.”

Hell glorifies God. I know. Exactly. It’s the halitosis of theological thinking, but it is truth nonetheless. And that is the simple premise for this book: hell glorifies God. That’s why I take delight in it.

Chapter 1
But tell me this. If there is nothing more than a non judgmental Santa-god out there, why do human beings desire justice in the first place? If there is only a Santa-god, why do I both judge my mother’s mean-drunk husband and condemn him in my heart? Woe is me… why can’t I be more like Santa Claus?

Chapter 4
If God loves you just the way you are, there was no reason for Jesus to die on a cross for you. The point frequently missing from the gospel these days is that God doesn’t love you just the way you are.

Afterword
Don’t be misled into thinking that only pagans, whores, politicians, and comedians end up in hell. Hell will be full of respectable people, Good Joes, like school teachers and doctors and nurses and firemen. Churchgoers, even.

The revisionist view of the afterlife treats sin with kid gloves. It gives people who have no hope a false hope that they can come to Jesus anytime— now, later, sometime after you die, when you feel like it, doesn’t matter very much… it’s all good. Look, I’m sorry, but that’s a message of damnation. It’s not the gospel. It’s not from the Bible. It’s a hellish lie.

 

Doom Eternal, J.B. Remensnyder

One of the most comprehensive works on hell ever produced with major sections on the church fathers, the creeds, and exegetical and grammatical proofs of the eternality of hell.

No posts found.

Excerpts

175
When , therefore , our blessed Lord , piercing with his infinite glance to the utmost bounds of the hidden future , and summoning its everlasting scope within his vision , deliberately declared that Judas , who was to travel all along its endless course , would better never have been born , he meant that the furthest deeps of futurity contained no succeeding crown of bliss that was to balance his foregoing burden of misery , and accordingly that his punishment was to be unremitting .

198
But if the Scriptures put them into hell , and by not the remotest intimation take them out again , we have no other recourse than to leave them where the infallible Word of God leaves them , viz . , “ to dwell with everlasting burnings ” ( Isa . xxxiii . 14 ) .
209
The “ destruction , ” then , of the Bible is not annihilation of existence , but of blessedness . It is not the extinction of being , but of happiness . It is not the end of life , but of hope . It is perishing not in a natural or physical , but in a spiritual sense . It is “ that state of separation from God in which all the higher faculties of human nature are working falsely and discordantly ; in which the true end of being is discarded , and its true enjoyment lost ; and in which there is , at last , the complete extinction , not of the soul's being , but of its well being . ”
319
It is not then the mere outposts but the very citadel of faith itself which is the real object of these covert efforts . Yielding a little to the enemy , soon the innermost sanctuary will be broken into and desecrated . If today we abandon what may seem indifferent , tomorrow we will be summoned to surrender the very fundamentals .
330
Well , then , there was no eternal death for Christ to die for . If infinite love must render impossible such an everlasting condemnation to woe , why did not Christ let that necessary bar stand in the way be tween men and perdition , instead of coming himself and exposing his own infinitely precious soul and body to the stroke of Almighty wrath , until a cry of nameless agony was wrenched from his lips , and the very heavens grew black with appalling horror at his infinite woe ?

God Is Great, God Is Good, Kelly James Clark

An insufficiently scriptural account of God's goodness drives improper conclusions to some useful philosophical questions.

No posts found.

Excerpts

As long as the damned continue to exist, their existence is good and, hence, God is good(great) to them. Augustine argues that existence is sufficiently good that it outweighs the suffering of the damned: ‘And truly the very fact of existing is by some natural spell so pleasant, that even the wretched are, for no other reason, unwilling to perish; and, when they feel that they are wretched, wish not that they themselves be annihilated, but that their misery be so.’ (City of God XI, 27) Here the argument assumes that the natural impulse to exist, which often prevents even people with the most wretched existence from committing suicide, persists in those who suffer in hell. Indeed, it persists in such a fashion that it outweighs one’s desire not to exist given one’s sufferings.
...
Some lying here, a little adultery there, a spell of petty theft here, a bit of coveting there.... Surely the punishments merited by these offenses adds up to a sum considerably less than eternity. Even the worst of sinners, Hitler say, might deserve 100 years per person killed; supposing Hitler killed 20 million people, he would retributively merit 2 billion years of punishment-- again, considerably less than eternity.

Paul’s Concept of Eternal Punishment, James Rosscup

Explores the concept of eternal punishment in Paul's epistles, focusing on three major passages. Moo covers similar territory better in Hell on Trial.

No posts found.

Excerpts

329
It would be fair to say that more than any other evangelical author, Peterson has been the bastion of traditional doctrine of hell in recent times and the most vocal critic of annihilationism.

335
John Stott has commented that "it would seem strange, therefore, if people who are said to suffer destruction are not in fact destroyed."

344
Responding to the claim that the text teaches eternal torment, Fudge commented, "[I]t is an 'everlasting' contempt, because the state is irreversible."

 

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.