Tag Archives: Nels F.S. Férre

“You REALLY Believe in HELL?! But WHY?” (Ten Reasons) (Reason 3) The Doctrine of God

Why in the world would someone believe in hell? And what exactly does it mean to “believe” in hell? These are a couple of the questions we want to answer in this ten-part series of posts. We’ve looked at REASON #1 — I got saved out of a fear of hell! We’ve also thought about REASON #2 – Hell makes sense.Let’s look at REASON #3 this morning — How does the doctrine of hell relate to the doctrine of God? Those who reject the doctrine of hell as eternal conscious punishment (ECP) say things like:

“[Hell is] an odious conception . . . blasphemous in its view of the Creator” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). Hell is “the final mockery of God’s nature” (John A.T. Robinson).This doctrine of hell is “an outrageous doctrine, a theological and moral enormity” (Clark H. Pinnock).

“How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness whose ways include inflicting everlasting torture upon his creatures, however sinful they may have been? Surely a God who would do such a thing is more nearly like Satan than like God, at least by any ordinary moral standards, and by the Gospel itself.” (Clark H. Pinnock)

The liberal scholar John A.T. Robinson (1919-1985), agreeing with the sentiments of the second century Alexandrian theologian Origen, pointedly charges in the article “Universalism – Is It Heretical?” that “Christ . . . remains on the Cross as long as one sinner remains in hell. This is not speculation: it is a statement grounded in the very necessity of God’s nature. In a universe of love there can be no heaven which tolerates a chamber of horrors, no hell for any which does not at the same time make it hell for God. He cannot endure that — for that would be the final mockery of his nature — and He will not.”

The theologian Nels F.S. Ferré sees the theological battlefield to be the nature of God. “Traditional orthodoxy,” Ferré says, “has to be challenged, fought and slain.” He writes, “Some have never really seen how completely contradictory are heaven and hell as eternal realities. Their eyes have never been opened to this truth. If eternal hell is real, love is eternally frustrated and heaven is a place of mourning and concern for the lost. Such joy and such grief cannot go together. There can be no psychiatric split personality for the real lovers of God and surely not for God himself. That is the reason that heaven can be heaven only when it has emptied hell, as surely as love is love and God is God. God cannot be faithless to Himself no matter how faithless we are; and His is the power, the kingdom and the glory.”

Ferré continues by saying that eternal hell compromises God’s sovereign love and that “Such a doctrine would either make God a tyrant, where any human Hitler would be a third degree saint, and the concentration camps of human torture, the king’s picnic grounds. That such a doctrine could be conceived, not to mention believed, shows how far from any understanding of the love of God many people once were and, alas, still are.”

But what are we do with Scriptures like Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’”

In many ways we are in a battle over the nature of God Himself! If God is indeed “allergic” to sin, then what is He to do with sinners who do not cast themselves on Christ, asking for His forgiveness? Universalists say God will save everyone in the end. Annihilationists say that God will end the existence of those who die without Christ. The Scriptures teach that there are two eternal destinies for man — and both are eternal (Mt. 25:48). God’s abhorrence of sin cost His Son’s life on the cross. If we are to exclude unrepentant sinning Christians from our churches (I Cor. 5), how can we object to the idea that a thrice-holy God can do the same with those who reject Christ?

A.W. Tozer sums up the issue when he writes, “The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.” (to be continued)


Posted by on February 11, 2020 in hell


Tags: , , ,