Of all the teachings of Christianity, the doctrine of hell is easily the most troubling, so much so that in recent years the church has been quietly tucking it away. Rarely mentioned anymore in the pulpit, it has faded through disuse among evangelicals and been attacked by liberal theologians. Hell is no longer only the target of those outside the church. Today, a disturbing number of professing Christians question it as well.
Perhaps more than at any other time in history, hell is under fire. The implications of the historic view of hell make the popular alternatives, annihilationism and universalism, seem extremely appealing. But the bottom line is still God’s Word. What does the Old Testament reveal about hell? What does Paul the apostle have to say, or the book of Revelation? Most important, what does Jesus, the ultimate expression of God’s love, teach us about God’s wrath?
Upholding the authority of Scripture, the different authors in Hell under Fire explore a complex topic from various angles. R. Albert Mohler Jr. provides a historical, theological, and cultural overview of “The Disappearance of Hell.” Christopher Morgan draws on the New Testament to offer three pictures of hell as punishment, destruction, and banishment. J. I. Packer compares universalism with the traditional understanding of hell, Morgan does the same with annihilationism, and Sinclair Ferguson considers how the reality of hell ought to influence preaching.
These examples offer some idea of this volume’s scope and thoroughness. Hell may be under fire, but its own flames cannot be quenched by popular opinion. This book helps us gain a biblical perspective on what hell is and why we cannot afford to ignore it. And it offers us a better understanding of the One who longs for all people to escape judgment and obtain eternal life through Jesus Christ.
“Annihilationism—or as its contemporary proponents like to call it, conditionalism—is the view that the wicked will ultimately be exterminated and cease to exist.” (Page 12)
“Attacks on the historic doctrine of hell that used to come from without the church are now coming from within. This is true especially with regard to two aberrations: universalism and annihilationism.” (Page 11)
“Universalism is the view that in the end all persons will experience the love of God and eternal life. All will be saved and none will be lost.” (Page 11)
“At some point in the nineteen-sixties, Hell disappeared.” (Page 16)
“We find hints of the netherworld and the afterlife as a place/time of eternal torment (in contrast to a beatific afterlife for the righteous) as we know it from the New Testament in only two Old Testament texts: Isaiah 66:24 and Daniel 12:2.” (Page 59)
This collection of essays plumbs the deep things of God with clarity, care, and conviction. We see how God is glorified when truth is put forever on the throne and evil on the scaffold.
—David F. Wells, Andrew Mutch Distinguished Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
One of the strongest and most useful biblical and theological assessments of the doctrine of hell over its ancient and modern detractors. There is hardly anything to match either the scope of its argument or the incisiveness of its thought in the last several decades!
—Walter C. Kaiser Jr., president, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Hell under Fire confronts the strongest arguments against hell fairly, clearly, and with pastoral sensitivity. The authors refuse even for a moment to beat around the bush with vague platitudes. They return again and again to the deeply disturbing but clear teaching of Scripture that hell does exist, and that it is a place of eternal punishment. This is a sobering, persuasive, much-needed book.
—Wayne Grudem, research professor of Bible and theology, Phoenix Seminary
Scripture references are linked directly to Greek and Hebrew texts, along with the English Bible translations of your choice. For any word in any language, you can double-click on that word and your digital library will automatically search your lexicons for a match. That gives you unprecedented access to linguistic data, along with all the tools you need for exegesis and interpretation.
Christopher W. Morgan is a professor of theology and dean of the School of Christian Ministries at California Baptist University in Riverside, California. Author/editor of 10 books and a teaching pastor of Helendale Community Church, he and his wife, Shelley, have been married for 20 years and live in Helendale, California.
Robert A. Peterson is a professor of systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He is author or editor of 20 books, including Salvation Accomplished by the Son: The Work of Christ and Our Secure Salvation: Preservation and Apostasy.