“You look like hell,” gasped a woman on TV to a disheveled man. What did she mean? What did she think hell looked like? What did the term hell contribute to her portrait? This is an example of the widespread trivializing of a once-powerful term to depict eternal damnation to mere minutia.
Why does God damn the wicked to eternal punishment? Or does He? How is His judgment just? Why and how do theologians strive to modify the results of his judgment? How are we to evaluate views of hell that either soften or deny it? The doctrine of punishment of the unredeemed after death originates in the Old Testament, is developed in the intertestamental Jewish literature, and culminates in the divinely authoritative New Testament doctrine of hell. How can people avoid that dreadful fate? If they should escape from it, what should they then do? What is involved in their saving others “by snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 23)? How does the deliverance from eternal punishment enhance our appreciation of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross? What effect should it have on our Christian witness? Distinctive contributions include: (1) a careful exegesis of key biblical texts, containing a thorough analysis of the doctrine of hell, (2) a rationale of God’s punishment of the unredeemed, (3) examination of the tours of hell genre, (4) biblical and historical theological themes of witness and evangelism, (5) ramifications of eternal damnation of the unsaved in terms of the urgency of witness.
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