29 Comments

  1. jay niemeyer says:

    Excellent, as usual Pastor Wilson.
    One important and sorely neglected aspect of the argument for eternal punishment is that it is actually self evident that hell is a just punishment for those who have sinned willfully IF we presuppose the existence of a holy and good God.
    Nobody argued this case better than Jonathan Edwards.
    Please, if you have ever struggled with the reasonableness of hell, read this: perhaps the most effectual sermon in terms of response that Edwards ever preached.
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/works1.xiii.vi.html

  2. Shayne says:

    Very interesting. I’m actually Pre-millenial, but I think I can join in this same hope. 1,000 years of a high population on earth, and most of them being Christians would have a similar effect of filling up heaven.

  3. Caleb Land says:

    SO a question that has always bothered me…I have used these same theological arguments before, but when I say, “God allows people to choose hell so that His justice will be displayed,” (which I do say) I always wonder….wouldn’t Jesus sacrifice on the cross be enough of a display of God’s justice? Why was hell necessary afterward? Why couldn’t he have saved everyone through this display of grace?

    I believe this, because it is what the Bible teaches…it’s just something I’ve wondered and never heard answered.

  4. Boyd Jahnke says:

    This is a very interesting perspective, one I haven’t heard from people who acknowledge the authority of Scripture.

    How is this optimism that so many will be saved reconciled with Jesus’ teaching in Mt 7:13-14?

    Matthew 7:13-14 Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are ***many***. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are ***few***.

  5. Simon says:

    Thanks Pastor Doug. Even if one doesn’t buy into postmillenial eschatology, I think the way you are approaching the issue is helpful for discussions with Bell-sympathizers and non-believers.

  6. David J Houston says:

    “SO a question that has always bothered me…I have used these same theological arguments before, but when I say, “God allows people to choose hell so that His justice will be displayed,” (which I do say) I always wonder….wouldn’t Jesus sacrifice on the cross be enough of a display of God’s justice? Why was hell necessary afterward? Why couldn’t he have saved everyone through this display of grace?
    I believe this, because it is what the Bible teaches…it’s just something I’ve wondered and never heard answered.”

    The answer to your question might be that God desired not only to exemplify his justice in pouring out his wrath upon Jesus, an innocent person who agrees to be the object of God’s wrath in our stead, but also in pouring out his wrath upon those who are actually wicked. As for why he chose the exact number of people who he did in fact choose to be the bearers of his wrath… well… that I don’t pretend to understand… but luckily I don’t have to! :)

  7. Seth B says:

    Boyd: In that passage Jesus is talking to 1st c Jews about the destruction of Jerusalem. It IS true that few Jews escaped and went on to recognize Christ as Savior. That fact has little to do with eschatology.

    May want to watch your tone. Mockery in debate has its place… But you have to know what you’re talking about first.

  8. Dan says:

    @Boyd: Did you try to search for any answers to your question? Seriously, no offense meant, but surely you realize that postmillenialism is nothing new, and so your question would most likely have been addressed elsewhere by any number of scholars and writers. And if you were looking for Doug’s specific response, I searched his blog for “7:13-14″ and found a brief, though telling, response immediately.

    @Caleb: I feel the weight of your concern, but ultimately what we as Christians are called to do is affirm Scripture. It does no good to spend much time questioning why things are the way they are as if our minds were anything near to God’s. The path you are heading down is long and tedious and can drive a man crazy. For certain, why couldn’t God have done anything other than what He has done? Speculation has no end. Of course, Scripture is God saying, “speculate no more; here is the truth.” This being the case, disbelief for many generally comes down to likes and dislikes. That is, most atheists, if you carefully consider their objections, simply do not like God or Scripture (or at least their understanding of it). You don’t find positive proofs against God, but people declaring they just don’t agree with or like him. Being a Christian is to affirm Scripture, often regardless of whether we like all that we read or not. It is saying, “I don’t always get it, God, but I believe you have said it, so I will affirm it and work toward understanding more each day.”

  9. Jim says:

    Rob Bell last year endorsed the testimony book of one Sarah Miles. Sarah, a San Franciscan Episcopalian who is living with another women details how she converted from atheism to “christianity” while taking communion. On her blog she is clear that one doesn’t have to believe in the historicity of the faith. Bell is basically a mainline protestant liberal. John Piper has enough evidence already–doesn’t have to wait for the book. He’s a wolf in a hipster pixie costume.

  10. Ken Silva says:

    I can tell you sources inside MHBC that there is a growing concern from some at MHBC about Bell’s book: http://tiny.cc/l23aj

  11. Percival says:

    Someone told me that I should listen to this talk, but I was turned off by the ad hominim attack on Bell at the beginning. Was that necessary?
    By the way, you haven’t even read the book! What’s up with that?

    • Jim says:

      Folks are saying one has to read the book before making judgment. My point is one can look at the video in advance of the book, Bell’s recommendations of harmful teachers, and other aspects of his ministry. In the video he says that believing Jesus saves us from God’s wrath is wrong. However, we are objects of wrath who have been shown mercy. If this is not true then why would one be thankful? I am a rather wretched sinner. If I can make heaven regardless of whether I accept the gift of repentance, take up my cross, deny myself,or, whether I practice lawlessness or not, I’ve been given a powerful incentive to quit the faith.

  12. Oscar says:

    I am dense (so that none of you have to affirm what I already amdmit to); I still don’t get it. So the “world” verses are God’s intention, as in, He had it in mind. Notwithstanding what He intended, His Holy justice must be executed; therefore unrepentant sinners will suffer the full force (hell) of His wrath.

  13. Caleb Land says:

    @Dan

    Did you read my whole comment? I ended it with an affirmation that I would believe scripture regardless. If I was looking for a “just shut up and believe the Bible” I could have asked anyone. I was asking to see if anyone had a good answer to my question.

    @David J Houston

    Thanks for the insight. That may be the only answer there is and I too am content with it if so.

  14. N. M. Cawley says:

    I understand the importance of responding to what one takes to be a denial of an essential Christian doctrine, but I wish leaders like Doug Wilson would deal with the significant arguments coming from scholars; not the popularized book of a pastor. For example, Keith DeRose and Thomas Talbott have have produced excellent arguments for Universalism of a quality far surpassing Bell’s.

    Also, the need to condemn Rob Bell as a false teacher, and a relativist is striking. I though Pastor Wilson was well acquainted with the work of the early church fathers like Origen and Gregory of Nyssa. Fact is, if Rob Bell is a false teacher then so are some church fathers. Certainly the church fathers are not false teachers, so it seems to follow that Rob Bell is not one either (at least not when it comes to Universalism).

    Also, nothing in the Ecumenical creeds excludes the doctrine that all will be eventually reconciled to God. So why are people claiming it Unorthodox?

    It’s disappointing to see this level of unnuanced argument from such a prominent figure.

  15. Theo Reynolds says:

    I believe in hell as eternal conscious punishment – does all the scriptures in support of this imply the “conscious awareness” side of the eternal punishment. Could hell be eternal but not conscious?

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