Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hell Was A Hot Topic in 2011

It seems that hell was a very popular topic in 2011. Hollywood films, New York Best-sellers list, and theological debates devoted quite a bit of time to this usually unpopular and dark subject. 2011 saw a resurgence in the debate of whether hell actually exists or not and will people really be sent there.

I did not see the movie but early in 2011 Hollywood put out a film with Anthony Hopkins who played a demon possessed priest engaged in a fierce battle with Satan called The Rite.

Harold Camping, former President of Family Radio predicted that Christ would return for true believers and that catastophic judgment would fall on the earth on first, May 21, 2011 and then when that didn't occur on October 21, 2011.He predicted judgment day with "weeping and wailing."

Former Pastor, Rod Bell wrote and released a best-selling book called Love Wins. Bell questioned whether a "few select" people would actually make it to heaven while billions of other people "burn forever in hell." Bell argued that God's grace and His infinite love will eventually win over many, if not all people giving them heaven also.

Pastor, oops, former Pastor, no, I guess Pastor Francis Chan wrote a response to Bell's book called Erasing Hell. Chan thoroughly studied the bible for what it and Jesus had taught about hell and concluded it was real. Chan worries that people will become complacent about their destiny with devastating results if Bell is wrong.

Also in 2011, Lauren Winner, assistant professor Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity wrote that Bell's book "exposed a debate among evangelicals that has been percolating underground for years." She states that there has been "hints of creeping universalism" in the evangelical world for about the last 30 years.

James Martin, culture editor of America Magazine has written extensively on the subject of hell. His conclusions (in accordance with Roman Catholic thinking) is that people land in hell not because they have faith or no faith, but because they choose to reject God's grace and attempts at reconciliation. Martin has stated that his favorite quote is from St. Therese of Liseux who said, "I believe in hell, and I believe it is empty."  Martin does say two interesting things about hell, one, he is not taking any chances with hell, and two, in the end, hell is a mystery.

Well, it seems that hell was a mystery to many in 2011. Of course hell has been both taught and rejected for centuries. The reason for such a discussion in 2011 may be somewhat mysterious but the subject is not. The bible is quite clear on the doctrine of judgment, punishment, and hell for unrighteous unbelievers.


Michael Wright said...

It was indeed a year of increased debate on the topic of hell. Rob Bell made the cover story of TIME magazine and numerous blogs. It is interesting how yet again another debate that has raged throughout church history has come up again in our time. Great post, Bro. Gregg, thanks for sharing.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Very interesting subject Gregg, Someone once told me "Hell is here on earth" but I think the earth a most beautiful place. Thanks for sharing.