Good News According To Jackson Crum and Francis Chan on Hell

For some reason I’ve attended a few churches with the initials PCC. This is the better one. Pastor Jackson Crum of Park Community Church on the Biblical reality of Hell.

Heaven & Hell :: Luke 16:19-29 from Park Community Church on Vimeo.

Another viewpoint on Hell
http://www.amazon.com/Evangelical-Universalist-Gregory-MacDonald/dp/1597523658

RESPONSE FROM A FRIEND

The Scriptures don’t give much detail; rather, some clear but ‘basic’ statements, e.g.:

Eccl 12:14 — כי את כל מעשה האלהים יבא במשפט על כל נעלם אם טוב ואם רע

Dan 12:2 — ורבים מישני אדמת עפר יקיצו אלה לחיי עולם ואלה להרפות לדראון עולם

Verses like these (and extrapolation from others) establish the principle that God will judge righteously, rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked (after death).

I listened to the two clips – one by Crum, one by Wright. They obviously take two different approaches – one more academic, looking at the development of Christian traditions about the terms; the other fully and emotionally immersed in one of those Christian traditions about heaven and hell. But both of them in different ways do point out that the traditional conception of “heaven and hell” may be confusing/inaccurate, because it doesn’t correspond exactly to what the Scriptures say, esp. given the multiple biblical terms such as Sheol, Gehenna, Gan Eden, etc.

The long clip – the sermon by Crum – had a lot of passionate extrapolation, completely traditional in the evangelical model; but I wonder if in the end much more was said (that could actually be verified biblically) than simply Dan. 12:2.

He didn’t seem to like the ‘nothingness’ argument; and perhaps with good reason. Although I wonder if the conversations he overheard were influenced not by ‘annihilationism’ but by CS Lewis’ book The Great Divorce. In this book and in The Last Battle, Lewis developed some analogies to try to reflect on what the afterlife might be like. He wasn’t claiming in either book to represent it literally. Rather, to imagine some aspects of it in ways that a human being (who naturally has almost no idea what it will be like) might be able relate to. I think both of these are valuable reflections; have you read them?

In Lewis’ analogies, one gets/has to think about how there can be a stark ‘yes or no’ judgment (‘heaven or hell’) and yet at the same time gradations in terms of ‘how good’ or ‘how bad’ people were in life & will be after death. Similarly for the question of a judgment based on your deeds – good or bad – vs what you claim to ‘believe’.

Incidentally, the Biblical Archaeology Review just ran an article on a closely related topic – I’m attaching it.

In the end, I think that one cannot improve on what my parents always told me when I asked about such topics. One has to trust that God is just. He is more just than we are. We could not judge everyone righteously; but He can. He will not judge in the way we would. But His judgment (whatever it is, and we are not told a lot about the details) will be true Justice.

So what do you think?

Francis Chan’s take on Hell

What conclusions have you come to after the research and the study you did for the book specifically on the topic of Hell?

That it’s very real. It is a place we need to avoid at all costs. It is a terrifying thought to fall into the hand of the Living God as Scripture tells us. But I was also surprised that these passages are really written to people who call themselves “believers.” Usually we only talk about Hell in this evangelistic, “I’m going to preach the Gospel” and “Hell, fire and brimstone” to these unbelievers, but these passages really were written to those who called themselves the Church. It’s a very sobering thought, and a very interesting warning.

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