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 eJournal will help all of us to do just that.