Hortus Deliciarum - Hell (Hölle) Artist: Herrad von Landsberg (c. 1180)
Christian History magazine is now considering putting together a sort of handbook, resource guide, or annotated bibliography on the history of Christian thought about hell. This should aid the research of folks whose interest in the topic has been stirred by Rob Bell‘s Love Wins, which has the Christian blogosphere buzzing and as of this writing sits as www.amazon.com’s #16 book.
So next to my desk is an ample box of books on hell, and many more will arrive soon through interlibrary loan–because when I started searching the online catalogues of Twin Cities’ consortium of theological schools, I discovered an interesting thing: most local library copies of most books on this topic are now marked as “out.” This is no coincidence. It’s amazing how much influence a single book (e.g. Bell’s) can have in stirring up conversation and research on a single topic!
So for now, this post comes in the form of a request: Oh erudite reader, what Christian thinkers, movements, books, articles, must we not fail to consult in constructing our proposed “Handbook on the History of Hell in Christian Thought”? I look forward to hearing from many of you.
Yours in the hope of heaven,
Folks, I know this is considerably “late to the party,” but I just discovered my friend Edwin Woodruff Tait’s recent review of Rob Bell‘s controversial Love Wins, and I believe it’s worth pointing you all to. This is in part because the kerfuffle over Bell’s book has not yet entirely died down, as thoughtful evangelicals (and many polemicists) are still discussing (hurling vitriol at) the book and its author. [For an excellent historical “backgrounder” on the issues raised by Bell in his book, see the article by Christianity Today managing editor Mark Galli here.]
First, the review link, so you can look at it yourself, and then a few clips.
The review may be read here. (And may I add: Edwin, I’m proud to know you!)
Now a few clips (of course, several links of several logical chains are missing in what follows–if you are interested in the whole argument, you should go to the link above):
As I understand this broader argument, it works something like this:
1. Salvation is God’s redeeming and transforming work in the world, overcoming our sinfulness and restoring us to a right relationship with God, one another, and creation.
This seems like it shouldn’t be controversial to me, but certainly many evangelicals speak as if
salvation was simply about having our sins forgiven and going to heaven. Continue reading
"Souls chained and tormented in hell," from Kalender of Shepherdes: a 15th-c. miscellany of religious, farming, astrological and medicine texts and illustrations
Well done, Mr. Galli! Mark Galli is the former editor of Christian History magazine and current (and long-time) managing editor of Christianity Today. He ministers in an evangelical Anglican church in the Chicagoland area. And he has just provided us with what I think is a helpful and charitable reflection on the significant minority position, among Bible-believing, gospel-teaching Protestants.
The position? That the traditional Christian doctrine of “conscious, eternal punishment” for the damned is out of kilter and should not be held as orthodoxy. Here’s a bit of Galli’s reflection, which was spurred by a recent book by the celebrated (and vilified) American pastor Rob Bell, and can be found in its entirety here: Continue reading