Wisdom so often in life prescribes moderation. It’s wise to eat with moderation, to speak with moderation, to feel with moderation, some would even say to believe with moderation.
But there’s absolutely nothing moderate about the doctrine of hell. It’s extreme in every way. It’s an extreme idea for the mind. It’s an extreme confrontation for the heart. And it blows against all the rules of social etiquette.
Embracing the reality of hell means setting aside moderation. It means admitting that our sin is dark and heinous to the point of eternal damnation; that the white light of God’s character and glory justly destroys those who have fallen short of his glory; and that that our non-Christians friends have nothing greater to fear. That’s tough to do when you have moderate views of your sin, your friend’s sin, and of God’s glory.
Embracing the reality of hell also means going against the fallen cultural structures and belief systems of this world, all of which conspire together with our own hearts to repeat the serpent’s promise of a moderate outcome, “You will surely not die.”
As hard as it is to stare at the doctrine of hell, surely it must be salubrious to our faith to do so from time to time. It forces us to once again reckon with who God is and who we are. We hope this issue of the 9Marks 9Marks Journal will help all of us to do just that.
Pastoral Perspectives on Hell
Our culture sneers at fear, as if there really is nothing to fear but fear itself. Yet Jesus told people to fear hell, and pastors today should do the same. Read more >
The doctrine of hell is ballast for our ministries, which will help us sail straight toward our most urgent task: proclaiming the gospel. Read more >
Hell in Biblical and Theological Perspective
Some think that by minimizing or ignoring hell, they are making God more glorious and more loving. Far from it! The horror of what we have been saved from only intensifies the glory and wonder of our salvation. Read more >
Andrew David Naselli
The New Testament graphically and horrifically describes hell, which raises a thorny question: how should we interpret those dreadful images? Read more >
James M. Hamilton Jr.
Hell glorifies God by vindicating his holiness and faithfulness to his word, demonstrating his infinite worth, and magnifying his mercy and love toward the redeemed. Read more >
This article contains brief reviews of seven key books on hell. Read more >
Recent Book Reviews
Eric Bargerhuff’s book Love that Rescues is nothing if not well titled. Read more >
A friend of mine in his late twenties recently made an interesting observation about adultery. Read more >