Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Interview: The Problem of Hell

Mike Licona interviews Dr. Jeremy Evans of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on the topic of Hell. What is hell? What does it entail? What is the doctrine of hell? Why should anyone believe in hell? Is it literal or metaphorical? What about universalism or annihilationism? How could a loving God send people to hell? These questions and more are dealt with in this interview. A must-listen, especially in light of the release of this book. For further study, check out Four Views on Hell.

Found at here, an excellent resource.

Full Interview MP3 Audio here. (1 hr)

Listen and share.


Nick Potts said...

very nice. I will have to listen to this because annihilationism and universalism is a big topic at my "Christian" University.

The Seeking Disciple said...

Thanks for posting this especially in light of all the debating taking place in the blogs over this important subject.

Anonymous said...

Rob Bell needs to listen to this. He was on Good Morning America recently promoting his new book which denies the biblical concept of eternal punishment in favor of universalism.

Anonymous said...

My comment was eaten 2x, trying again.

Thanks for the discussion. I want to play it again, Sam, because it covered a great deal of ground.

For many years, I have struggled with the logic of a literal Hell and lake of fire. Now, twice in two weeks, I have heard apologists echoing some of my sentiments. While I am finally willing to take a stand that hellfire is not literal, we are in agreement that Hell is not going to be pleasant at any rate.

Anonymous said...


My main contention is for the degrees of punishment. How can Ghandi and Hitler have different punishments if they're both in the lake of fire? Also, the lake of fire is only referenced in Revelation IIRC, a highly symbolic book.

A while ago, someone put a bug in my ear about the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" verses. He pointed out that those are of shame, not physical torment. Hmmm...

Thanks again for this.

pds said...


You might be interested in this article on tektonics:
JP Holding, the resident apologist, argues that hell as a state of 'Shame' makes more sense within a 1st Century context.


Tarnya said...

Of interest might be
The problem of hell and Rethinking Hell

Unknown said...

I enjoyed this interesting and informative talk, my thanks to Mike Licona & Dr. Jeremy Evans for discussion this emotional topic. I wanted to share a thought about one of the core issues of this "hell doctrine" controversy. According to Dr. Evans, et al, one of the problems we have to deal with is our measure time compared with that of eternity - eternity is set in our hearts, yet, not as of now, is not a part of our (humanity's) experience. The conflict appears to be the belief that a finite number of sins incurs eternal punishment, which is not in agreement with human judgment. This is an emotional issue; it is supposed to be.

I believe the starting point must always The Beginning - The Alpha. God chose to choose all humanity's restoration and redemption to Himself. Here lies the fallacy from my perspective. The controversial question is: "How can a loving God send people to hell?" Simple enough to understand. This, however, is not a forthcoming question. Remember, we can't shift the burden of proof for sin and being sinful in light of a Holy Creator. To say that "a loving God" sends people to hell is slightly misleading because it is attributing an aspect of God's character and inferring a contradiction between His Holiness and human preferences for judgment and punishment. We, I believe, can agree that hell is punishment; an existence devoid of the possibility of a 'Father-Son Relationship' with God.

But "a loving God" does not send people to hell. God is love. Yes He is loving, but loving and love are irrefutably relational terms. Without relationship love cannot exist in the sense that is intended when used to describe the grace-saving attribute and character of the heart of the Father. "A loving God" does not send people to hell. GOD IS LOVE, and those who so choose not to share in and experience this reality, consequently choose hell for themselves - they send themselves there, not God. What alternative is there? Annihilationism and other doctrinal views aside, God is the origin of life; it's where it (life) comes from in the first place and is the Force that sustains life. Thus, disconnection from the life leaves few alternatives for one's existence. Moreover, hell was prepared for the devil and his angels, which means that like creation, hell has a finite past - a starting point. God can't help that He's holy. He just is, and sin cannot exist in God's presence. That tells us something about the power He's invested in man; the power of choice and will must register high if all creation fractured as a result of Adams transgression. I gather the Lord understands perfectly well what we need on our walks with Him in order to fulfill His purpose and good pleasure. Mysteries and unknowns give faith an opportunity to work and grow, and (my personal favorite) gives us yet another opportunity to witness God's faithfulness.

Thanks for letting me share. I'm rather neutral on this topic, either way is of no consequence in my assignments, and I agree with Dr. Evans that the emotional implications and our lack of insight into the nature of justice, punishment, eternity, etc., is, by our own admission, fundamentally flawed because we are sinners in need of a Savior. Reality and responsibility call one to accept the pain and difficulty and challenges life is comprised of, but there is joy and peace and praise as well. Humans nailed Truth to a cross and called it evil after all. We ought to tread lightly on these grounds.

In Him,
Andrew B. - - - stay in grace

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