CHAOS-CH 4 Whatever Happened to Hell? (047)
In this episode of the podcast. Bill Giovannetti continues sharing new book, CHAOS:As Goes the Church, So Goes the World.
This episode also includes the Afterword: What Is an Evangelical?
Chapter 4 - Whatever Happened to Hell?
Some things are true. Some things are false. You might get an argument about that.
Some people go to heaven. Some people go to hell. Jesus is the only way to heaven. You will definitely get an argument about that, tragically, even from those who call themselves evangelicals.
The Church can either warn people to flee from the wrath to come, or, in the name of so-called tolerance, spit on substitutionary atonement and define into meaninglessness the Cross of Christ. There is no middle ground.
Such “Particularism,” as it is called, though eminently biblical, is enormously unpopular in our age of secular intolerance. It also turns out to be unpopular to many good, church-going people too.
Whatever became of hell? The simple fact of it will never change. To extinguish the fires of hell is to diminish grace and to disrespect the Cross. It is to put the world we serve into grave peril. If we Christians offer a Savior, what, exactly, is he saving us from?
Generations of Christians have staunchly maintained a binary vision of the eternal state: the redeemed enjoy the bliss of heaven and the unredeemed suffer the fires of hell. This doctrine dates back to the foundations of the Christian faith and beyond. Michael Green, in his classic study on evangelism in the early church, wrote:
A clear dualism runs through every strand of the gospel record of Jesus’s teaching. Mankind is divided into those who accept Him as the way to God and those who do not. There are two ways a man may tread—the broad way which leads to destruction or the narrow way which leads to life: no third option. Entry into the kingdom of God depends upon a relationship with Jesus. Always we meet this religious dualism. It is one of the most objectionable elements in the gospel to modern man. No doubt it was to men of the first century, but those Christians believed implicitly that Jesus was the only hope for the world, and the only way to God for the human race.1
The fires of hell have always stoked the engine of world mission and evangelism. Green noted:
Now if you believe that outside of Christ there is no hope, it is impossible to possess an atom of human love and kindness without being gripped with a great desire to bring men to this one way of salvation.2
More Than Paper
The doctrine of eternal damnation is painful and complex, and there are a number of positions one might take while remaining within the realm of orthodoxy. Yet the doctrine has always been seen as essential. Virtually all evangelical institutions affirm two destinies, one of salvation in Christ alone, and the other of a Christless eternity under the condemnation of God — with the determination made prior to death based upon faith or unbelief in Christ.
But that’s on paper.
Today’s evangelical church has gone virtually silent on a bucketful of crucial doctrines. The Trinity. Heaven. Hell. The doctrines of the Cross. True grace. The doctrine of Union with Christ. The priority of evangelism. The authority and sufficiency of Scripture.
Our theological underpinnings are rotting away.
1 Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church, TBK
2 Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church, TBK
To read the rest of Chaos, please pick up the book!
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You might have caught some changes in file names, podcasts episode names and titles, because I have basically changed the numbering system to make the whole structure of the book more clear,