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. We’ve also considered REASON #3 — How does the doctrine of hell relate to the doctrine of God? We also touched on REASON #4 – How does the doctrine of eternal lostness relate to the doctrine of Man? We’ve thought about REASON #5 – How does hell relate to the doctrine of Sin? We’ve also considered REASON #6 — How does the doctrine of eternal hell relate to the doctrine of SALVATION (Soteriology)? REASON #7 asked about hell’s relationship to the Person of Christ.
In our last three posts we want to consider the THREE ALTERNATIVES suggested to take the place of eternal conscious punishment. We’ve considered the most popular alternative view — and that is ANNIHILATIONISM (REASON #8). We found that view lacking biblical support.
Let’s look at a second ALTERNATIVE being embraced by some today — and that leads us to REASON #9 POST-MORTEM CONVERSIONISM. This view was popularized by the American theologian Donald G. Bloesch who said, “We do not wish to build fences around God’s grace . . . and we do not preclude the possibility that some in hell might finally be translated into heaven.”
What? Yes, after-death opportunities for salvation. Some try to tie this idea in with I Peter 3:19 where we read that Jesus “went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits.” Others will connect this idea of further chances of salvation after death by referring to the Apostles’ Creed (later editions) which says that Christ “descended into hell.”
So the theory is that between Christ’s death and bodily resurrection He went to the place of the departed dead and offered them additional chances for salvation. My suggestion would be that Christ did not descend to the place of the dead between His physical death and His resurrection, but instead went to be with His Father in paradise (as he promised the repentant thief, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise,” Lk. 23:43). There is no evidence that, if He descended to hell, it was for the purpose of giving second chances to those who had died.
This view also fails to find biblical support. Jesus says in John 8:24, “If you do not believe I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” Hebrews 9:27 says “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” There is no biblical evidence whatsoever that people will receive chances to believe after death. That’s why we need to get the gospel out NOW! (to be continued)
Friends: Have I got a deal for you! My book, The Other Side of the Good News: Confronting Contemporary Challenges to Jesus’ Teaching on Hell, will be sent to you IF you sent $10 to my PayPal account: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Other Side of the Good News discusses three alternatives suggested (universalism, post-mortem conversionism, and annihilationism) to replace the biblical view of eternal conscious punishment. Jesus’ teaching on hell is carefully examined. Go to Paypal.com, click on “Pay or Send Money,” and that’s it! I’ll be notified via email that you have paid for the book and I’ll send it to you. You are also welcome to send me your shipping address (email me at email@example.com).
This book — The Other Side of the Good News — is the most academically-researched book I’ve written. This book will help you answer questions about God’s wrath and the need for Christ to provide salvation.
Our latest book, Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World is a call to becoming a friend of sinners like the Lord Jesus was! You can order this through Amazon or directly from me (send $10 [which includes shipping] to my address).
Dr. Larry Dixon
117 Norse Way
Columbia, SC 29229 Cell: 803-201-9745