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Home » The Commons

Is hell a necessary evil?

Submitted by on March 31, 2011 – 4:50 pm2 Comments

Hell is a popular place these days. Not for tourism, of course. But it’s the talk of the religious town

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Is hell a necessary evil?

2 Comments »

  • Greg says:

    Travis, it has been a while since the link to your article was posted. I just finished reading Love Wins and was curious whether anyone had posted something concerning this topic/book on this site(hence coming upon this post). At any rate, if you have not yet read the book, I would encourage you to read it. Because of the press surrounding it, you might be surprised as to its content. No it is not an exegetical masterpiece (indeed it has some exegetical issues); it is not a systematic masterpiece (it doesn’t even attempt this); and it can be frustrating at times. But it seems to me to be primarily a polemic against the ‘if you die tonight’ questions ‘and getting in’ mentality that utilize the fear of hell as the motivating factor in conversion (i.e. the fear for self) rather than the love of God. This is a refreshing thing to see in the world of the Christian faith (especially one that takes the Scriptures seriously). While the book leaves many questions open, it does not deny hell and it also does not seem to have as its goal a suggestion of universalism (beyond objective justification; and it does, as I read it, hold the need for subjective justification). But again, I would encourage a read of it so that you and others can respond responsibly to parishioners questions (if your parishioners are inclined to such books), even as the book seeks to do.

    As to your question of whether hell is a necessary evil… I think couching the question where we are determining what is ‘necessary’ makes it difficult to respond. I certainly am not able to determine necessity. I can comment that it exists; but whether it is necessary or not, that is beyond my pay grade. Does only that which is necessary exist?

  • Travis Scholl says:

    Greg…. Thanks for your thoughtful response and your insight into the book. I have not read it yet, but I would still like to. I have had a suspicion that the controversy over the book has become a case of more heat and less light. And sometimes I feel like the responses of some evangelicals to the book includes a bit of jealous schadenfreude, since he’s the “face” of a “new” evangelicalism.

    As to “necessary evil,” I’d have to confess that I used the figure of speech for the most part as simply a clever title. But in a certain way, your concluding sentence asks an interesting metaphysical question. But answering it is probably above my pay grade too.

    Thanks again. Peace.

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