Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson join forces to answer one of the more controversial questions of the 21st century, “What is hell?” Careful readers notice from the outset that the very question implies the existence of hell.
The authors begin with the classic formulation, “Would a loving God really send good people to hell?” Three erroneous assumptions lie dormant within the question. First, it assumes that God is only love and ignores his other attributes, especially justice and wrath. Second, it wrongly assumes that people are inherently good. Third, it “distorts the portrait of God by portraying him as the one sending people to hell, as if he happily does so.” In other words, this is the wrong question. The authors propose the proper question, namely, “How can a loving and just God declare the guilty to be right with him?”
The authors continue to promote a robust view of Scriptural authority by developing a biblical description of the God-glorifying doctrine of hell. Five principles emerge:
1. Hell is punishment (Matt. 5:20-30, 24-25; 25:31-46; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; Rev. 20:10-15).
2. Hell is destruction (Matt. 7:13-14, 24-27; 24:51; Rom. 9:22; Heb. 10:27).
3. Hell is banishment (Matt. 3:1-12, 7:21-23; 8:12; 13:41-42, 49-50; 25:41; Rev. 22:14-15).
4. Hell is a place of suffering (Matt. 3:12; 8:12; Mark 9:42, 48; Rev. 14:10).
5. Hell is eternal (Dan. 12:2; Isa. 66:22, 24; Mark 9:43, 48; Matt. 25:41, 46; Jude 7, 13).
An excellent discussion focuses on the bearing that the doctrine of hell has on our theology and practice. The authors maintain that when hell is compromised or discarded, the theological house of cards inevitably begins to fall: “To downplay or reject hell usually means to err in other important beliefs also. Reworking hell is often an early indicator that other things have been redefined.”
In an ultimate sense, the doctrine of hell helps Christians remember the mission of the church. It reminds us of God’s majesty and the cosmic treason known as sin. And it reminds us of the final fate of anyone who rejects the Savior that God sent. The doctrine of hell reminds us of the foolishness of universalism and inclusivism, the notion that all will be saved – even the ones who refused to believe in Jesus. The doctrine of hell should humble Christians and prompt God-centered worship.
Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson have accurately described hell and given sufficient biblical evidence to warrant belief. This book is a serious warning to so-called evangelicals who have compromised the doctrine of hell by promoting universalism, inclusivism or annihilationism. Highly recommended!