Lot of heat about hell has happened over the last few months. I’ve found it hugely frustrating as an army of apologists and doctrinal experts take a firing position against so called heresy. It’s purposeless. People will believe what they wish to believe. A popular book doesn’t change belief. It mostly fires imagination and confirms or refutes already existing belief.
So in that vein I’m just going to outline where I am at the moment.
My imagination about hell is mostly around C.S Lewis’ various views about the subject. So in the Great Divorce hell is England on a bad day which will eventually be destroyed. Interestingly enough the wise character who explains everything in the book is George Macdonald who was allegedly a Christian Universalist. In the Last Battle hell exists only in the minds of dwarfs who cannot hear or see heaven or Aslan even though they are right next to him and sitting in Alsan’s new Narnia.
I don’t think I could venture any further than these images that C.S. Lewis gives.
And I don’t think we are meant to have any more clarity than that. I definitely DON’T believe in an eternal conscious torment. That would be God’s ultimate defeat for his creation. New earth, new heaven but same old hell. Or is it going to be a brand new hell? That shall exist along with the new earth and heaven?
I think the amount of time hell has taken up conversation isn’t worth it. First of all it barely features in the Old Testament (once in Daniel). So immediately that should make us a bit wary. If it’s not really in the Old Testament is it that important? All other features of the gospel that most Christians preach have definitive Old Testament/New Testament cross overs.
Even within the New Testament as a whole it is minimally dwelt upon. The New Testament talks far more about living the new life in Jesus, justice, money etc.
The whole of the bible’s focus is towards the new life. It’s emphasizes the beauty of the new creation that has already been begun in Jesus. That is where the focus lies. From the promise to Noah, to Abraham to Jacob, to Moses through to the great prophets it God’s awesome new world that’s the focus. Instead of this, huge amounts of evangelical Christendom focus on sexuality and hell.
Why can’t there be evangelism without hell? Isn’t the person of Jesus, beautiful, awe inspiring and fully enough to inspire evangelism?
Yet I won’t say that hell isn’t there or has no place. I have to respect what scripture has. And it has a lot of crazy stuff in it. Obviously I can’t fit it all in. Neither am I going to chuck it all out. But in terms of the amount of hot air, heated discussions and the heaping of coals on people’s heads, it’s not worth it.