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Why does punishment in hell go on forever?

With Rob Bell’s recent questioning of the Christian doctrine of hell, Russell Moore suggests two reasons why hell is forever:

First, the revolt against God is more serious than we think it is. An insurrection against an infinitely worthy Creator is an infinitely heinous offense. We know something of this intuitively. This is why, in our human sentences of justice, we sentence a man to one punishment for threatening to kill his co-worker and another man to a much more severe punishment for threatening to kill the nation’s president.

Second, and more important, is the nature of the punishment itself. The sinner in hell does not become morally neutral upon his sentence to hell. We must not imagine the damned displaying gospel repentance and longing for the presence of Christ. They do indeed, as in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, seek for an escape from punishment, but they are not new creations. They do not in hell love the Lord their God with heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Read his whole post here.

HT: Stand to Reason

Reviewing Rob Bell

Even before its release, Rob Bell’s book Love Wins has been drawing controversy. In questioning many of the traditional Christian views of heaven, hell, and eternal punishment, the popular megachurch pastor seemed to be abandoning the doctrine of God’s judgment and advocating a brand of universalism.

Now that the book has been published, several reviews and responses have became available. Of these, Kevin DeYoung has perhaps written one of the most careful and comprehensive treatments of the book. He summarizes why the book is so dangerous:

“The theology is heterodox. The history is inaccurate. The impact on souls is devastating. And the use of Scripture is indefensible. Worst of all, Love Wins demeans the cross and misrepresents God’s character.”

You can read the whole review on his blog or download the 21 page pdf here.

DeYoung’s response is organized under seven headings:

  1. Not Your Grandmother’s Christianity
  2. Historical Problems
  3. Exegetical Problems
  4. Eschatological Problems
  5. Christological Problems
  6. Gospel Problems
  7. A Different God

Rob Bell is right when he says “what we believe about heaven and hell is incredibly important because it exposes what we believe about who God is, and what God is like” and that’s why we need to take these issues so seriously and understand how harmful Bell’s claims are to the gospel message.

How can God be loving yet send people to hell?

New Testament Research Professor Don Carson discusses the doctrine of eternal punishment and whether this is compatible with a God of love.