Hell part 4: Pastoral reflections on hell

This is the fourth and final part of a series on hell. (Read parts 1, 2 [which incorporates 1] and 3.)

More than most theological subjects, the doctrine of hell raises a high number of pastoral concerns. If hell is a real place, ruled by God, where all who are found outside of Christ at death or at his return experience the eternal conscious pain of punishment, banishment and destruction, then a number of issues present themselves to us immediately. This article discusses these in no particular order.

1. How we speak about hell

Firstly, hell should change the way we speak about it. In our culture, ‘hell’ is a swear word, other people’s music (according to Wired), or, as Jean-Paul Satre once said, “other people”.1 For some, hell is an experience in this life: the Victoria bushfires of 2009 were described as “Hell’s fury”.2

Without wanting to diminish for a moment such horrific events that some people experience in this life, our study of the reality of hell and all that it entails should at least provide pause for thought on how we use the word ‘hell’. If what has been said about hell in these articles is true and accurate, then how we speak about hell ought to change radically. Is it really appropriate for a Christian to use ‘hell’ as a swear word (“Oh hell!”, “What the hell?”) or even as part of an idiom (“She’s been through hell!”)? I know that those who speak like this are not consciously referring to the actual place or the state of eternal punishment; nevertheless, as Christians, our language should be above the world’s sloppy speech. I believe that, in the light of our study, the only time ‘hell’ should ever appear on a Christian’s lips is in apologetic discussions about it or when we are pleading with someone not to go there.

There is also a reverse side to how we speak about hell. Sadly, there have been abusive descriptions of hell by some evangelicals, going far beyond the sober truthfulness of the Scriptures.3 At times, some of these portray an appalling insensitivity—even a malicious joy or gloating over those who suffer in hell. Such abuses must be avoided at all costs. There is no place for talking harshly about hell or talking about it in exaggerated ways that go beyond scriptural limits. It is a subject that demands careful and sensitive treatment.

2. The end-time judgement

Secondly, the issue of how we speak about hell is appropriate for Christian preachers in particular. Given the specific scriptural descriptions of hell, Christian preachers ought to speak with clarity on the end-time judgement, not in vague and general terms. One is reminded of the (true?) story of a preacher who warned his hearers that they would face “eschatological ramifications”.4 However, conditional immortality and annihilation are “eschatological ramifications”. But what should it to mean for the preacher? And what ought it mean for our listeners after the sermon? Will they come away any clearer on what lies ahead?

In this regard, preachers should not just talk about hell; they should preach hell. Lesslie Newbigin once remarked that “It is one of the weaknesses of a great deal of contemporary Christianity that we do not speak of the last judgement and of the possibility of being finally lost”.5 If I may take this one step further, it is one of the great weaknesses of modern evangelicalism that we do not actually preach hell with the clarity, precision and boldness with which Jesus preached it. I remember a sermon series on hell in one church where the minister delivered a sermon on how so many people want to duck the thorny issue of hell, and how, as evangelicals, we can’t; hell exists and we must face it. That he, at least, flagged the issue was commendable; that, in many respects, he didn’t preach it himself was inadvertently ironic. It is one thing to talk often about how you and your church believe in hell—even putting it on the sermon program on a yearly basis; it is quite another to actually preach hell on a regular basis—furthermore, to preach it like we really believe it.

For example, Jesus’ “weeping and gnashing of teeth” metaphor is not meant to serve as simply a diversion point in the sermon to justify the preaching of hell to the unbeliever; it is meant to stun and shock—to sting and startle—to fill the hearer with dread, not just to relate to their head with an intellectually argued apologia for why it’s good and right to speak of hell. Hell should be preached in such a way that it is like cracking open smelling salts right beneath our listeners’ noses.

Moreover, if we are prepared to tease out the picture of what a ‘feast’ in the “kingdom of God” will be like (Luke 13:29) by playing on the many delightful aspects that such an occasion brings with it (the sound of music and dancing; the smell and taste of great food and fine wine; the joy of friendship, laughter and singing; the company of loved ones) and encouraging people not to miss out, is it not reasonable to expect a preacher to draw out the metaphor of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” in order to stir the sensibilities of postmodern people to flee from the wrath to come? A faithful preacher should aim for both—a passionate, winsome stirring of the desires of the unregenerate to come and join the biggest eschatological party that will ever be, and a sombre, clear, urgent pleading with the blind to escape the most dreadful eschatological tragedy that will ever occur.

Interestingly, Tim Keller reflects that, in his experience, simply pressing home the symbols of hell without actually explaining their referents has proved ineffective.6 He tells of how one person told him that the “fires of hell” didn’t scare him at all, but when Keller explained what ‘disintegration’ might look like in a person—being reduced to a monotonous grumbling sound of a machine going on forever—his friend went immediately quiet.

In short: once we have given the apologia for why it is reasonable to speak about hell (and the apologia is necessary in a postmodern world that has lost its bearings when it comes to justice and judgement), we should not stop short of actually preaching hell.

3. Hell’s insufficiency

Thirdly, in preaching hell, we ought to preach not only the stark reality of it, unpacking the variety of images and pictures, but we should also speak of hell’s insufficiency. Hell itself is not able to save people from hell; only Christ can—a Christ testified to by the Scriptures. This is underlined in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, who ends up in hell (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man’s request for someone to go and tell his brothers of the torments of hell in order to warn them not to go there (vv. 27-28) is met with a surprising answer: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (v. 31). In other words, fear of the reality of hell does not save people from hell; only the Scriptures that point to Christ save people. Hell must be proclaimed in conjunction with a Christ who saves people from hell, for only Christ can save.

4. People and death

Fourthly, hell should change the way we think about people and death. Let me deal with each of these in turn.

a) People

In his essay ‘The Weight of Glory’, CS Lewis writes of the amazing, potential future glory that awaits a human being in the new creation. It is worth quoting the essay at length, with little comment in response:

It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations—these are mortal and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of the sinner—no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies life as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him Christ vere latitat—glorifier and glorified, Glory Himself—is truly hidden.7

We may have a quibble over Lewis’ sacramentalism, but besides that, this is one of the most profound and helpful statements written about relating to people in light of heaven and hell. Lewis is correct: “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.”

b) Death

While listening to the bells of St Giles Church, Oxford, as he awaited an operation, Poet Laureate John Betjeman wrote:

Intolerably sad, profound
St. Giles’ bells are ringing round …
Swing up! and give me hope and life,
Swing down! and plunge the surgeon’s knife.
I, breathing for a moment, see
Death wing himself away from me
And think, as on this bed I lie,
Is it extinction when I die?8

Bertrand Russell’s answer was simple: “Yes”. “When I die I shall rot.”9 For the Christian believer, the answer is binary and far graver: when we die, we either go to heaven or hell. CS Lewis said that “to a Christian the true tragedy of Nero must be not that he fiddled while the city was on fire but that he fiddled on the brink of hell”.10 The reality of hell and the fact that millions of people pass from this life every year into a lost eternity should lead us to gospel urgency in order to warn people that death is not the end; hell is—and it does not end. A moving illustration by John Blanchard helps to underline the need for urgency:

On 12 December 1984 dense fog shrouded the M25 near Godstone, in Surrey, a few miles south of London. The hazard warning lights were on, but were ignored by most drivers. At 6.15 a.m. a lorry carrying huge rolls of paper was involved in an accident, and within minutes the carriageway was engulfed in carnage. Dozens of cars were wrecked. Ten people were killed. A police patrol car was soon on the scene, and two policemen ran back up the motorway to stop oncoming traffic. They waved their arms and shouted as loud as they could, but most drivers took no notice and raced on towards the disaster that awaited them. The policemen then picked up traffic cones and flung them at the cars’ windscreens in a desperate attempt to warn drivers of their danger; one told how tears streamed down his face as car after car went by and he waited for the sickening sound of impact as they hit the growing mass of wreckage farther down the road.

Blanchard concludes: “The plight of the lost is so terrible, the power of sin so great and the horror of hell so fearful—how can you possibly do nothing to warn people of their danger and to point them to the Saviour?”11

Great God, what do I see and hear?
The end of things created!
The Judge of all mankind appears,
On clouds of glory seated.
The trumpet sounds, the graves restore,
The dead which they contained before!
Prepare, my soul, to meet Him …

But sinners, filled with guilty fears,
Behold His wrath prevailing.
In woe they rise, but all their tears

And sighs are unavailing.
The day of grace is past and gone;
Trembling they stand before His throne,
All unprepared to meet Him.12

So maybe it is time to have that chat with your neighbour, work colleague or friend at university. If what I have said is true—if they are outside of Christ—then they are heading for hell, and we may be the only Christian they know. Rather than seeing it as a burden, we ought to view it as a privilege: we have incredibly good news for them.

5. Bold to proclaim

Fifthly, hell should make believers bold to proclaim. Understanding the context of a number of texts on hell provides helpful resources for the believer in their Christian life. For example, in both Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:5, Jesus’ talk of hell arises out of commissioning his disciples to go and preach: “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” The idolatry of pleasing other people and fearing what they think, which we are all so prone to, is best remedied by a wholesome fear of the one who rules hell. What do we think our work colleagues or fellow students are going to do when we tell them about Christ? Laugh at us? Talk behind our backs? Not sit with us at lunchtime? When we compare this sort of ‘persecution’ to that which our brothers and sisters in, say, Indonesia face (beatings, torture, jail and even death itself), our caving into peer pressure or pleasing others really does appear feeble.

This is not to say that for a shy Christian girl at university, talking to her non-Christian friends about Christ should feel easy and normal. God has made us all different in this regard: some of us have more confidence as people than others, depending on our personality and family upbringing. But whoever it is God has made us to be, and whatever pressure or persecution we fear, when asked to give a reason for the hope within us (1 Pet 3:15), let Jesus’ words stir you to boldness: “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

6. Confidence to persevere

Sixthly, hell should make believers confident to persevere. In Revelation 14, the prospect of God’s future judgements on all who have worshipped the beast “call[s] for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (v. 12). In other words, the eschatological judgement in hell that awaits those who worship the beast serves as a warning to not fall away from serving Jesus Christ faithfully. Similar logic is used in Hebrews, where the writer encourages Christian believers to persevere, since “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31).

New Testament writers use the reality and prospect of hell to warn believers about not falling away. According to Jesus in Mark 9:43-50, if his disciples don’t do radical surgery on their sin, then they will end up in hell.13 Sin is, therefore, serious for believers. This key point is, in my view, often terribly neglected: we no longer take sin seriously, and subsequently, don’t teach the full force of biblical texts such as Romans 8:13: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die”. The texts of Scripture on eschatological judgement warn us to persevere and endure to the end, helping us to fight sin, so that in the end we do not fall short (Heb 3:12-14, 4:11).

7. Comfort for believers

Seventhly, God’s final just punishment of the ungodly should comfort persecuted believers. In 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, Paul writes of hell in the context of Christians suffering persecution and trials. He assures believers that God will pay back trouble to those who have troubled them. Before we think that this is some sort of vindictive polemic on Paul’s part, or contrary to aspects of Jesus’ teaching, Paul prefaces his comments with a declaration of God’s right and just judgement (1:5-6). What the persecutor of Christians will receive on that last day is only what they will deserve. The Belgic Confession (Article 37) articulates the point well:

And therefore the consideration of this judgement is justly terrible and dreadful to the wicked and ungodly, but most desirable and comfortable to the righteous and elect; because then their full deliverance shall be perfected, and there they shall receive the fruits of their labour and trouble which they have borne. Their innocence shall be known to all, and they shall see the terrible vengeance which God shall execute on the wicked, who most cruelly persecuted, oppressed, and tormented them in this world …

The cry of the martyrs in Revelation resonates with this: “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev 6:10).

8. Tears

Eighthly, the inevitability of death and the eternal fixity of hell should lead us to tears. The doctrine of hell is a painful topic, and those who do not respond with some emotional pain have simply not understood it. Jesus anguished over Jerusalem’s stubborn resistance to his message:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matt 23:37).

Paul wrote with emotional angst over the lost state of his Jewish brethren, wishing that he himself might be sent to hell instead of them (Rom 9:3)! God still pleads with sinners: “Why will you die? … turn, and live” (Ezek 18:31-32). John Stott writes: “I long that we could in some small way stand in the tearful tradition of Jeremiah, Jesus and Paul. I want to see more tears among us. I think we need to repent of our nonchalance, our hard-heartedness.”14 When was the last time you wept over someone you know who is heading for hell?

9. Right perspective

Ninthly, the doctrine of hell should be kept in the right perspective. This point relates to hell and living now as we await Christ’s return. The thought that people are heading to hell should lead us to tears and to urgent efforts of gospel mission. When the church loses such urgency, the church loses a part of its soul. Hopefully these articles on hell will at least serve as an electric shock to stun you out of the triviality of your life and help you get things back in perspective: there is a heaven and hell, and the destination of every person on earth is binary. Moreover, perhaps for some who read these articles, the topic of hell may be another step along the way to pursuing the path of full-time paid Christian ministry. Certainly it was one of the things that sparked my desire to be a preacher of the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus. When the gospel is viewed against the backdrop of hell, “who, having been called to be a preacher, would stoop to be a king”?15

Does this mean, however, that every Christian should give up their normal job and stand on the street corners of our cities, pleading with every passer-by to accept Christ before the coming judgement? Should we blitz every letterbox in the world with a gospel tract? Can you really justify trimming the hedge when your neighbour is going to hell? I am, of course, speaking in the extreme. But then, isn’t hell extreme? Should we not do everything we possibly can to keep people out of hell while we have breath in our lungs? As Charles Wesley put it,

Happy, if with my latest breath
I may but gasp His Name,
Preach Him to all and cry in death,
“Behold, behold the Lamb!”

In short, if hell is real and eternal, how then shall we live before the terrible and awful day of God’s judgement? Or, as CS Lewis put it, more practically (in the university context), the Christian

must ask himself how it is right, or even psychologically possible, for creatures who are every moment advancing either to heaven or to hell, to spend any fraction of the little time allowed them in this world on such comparative trivialities as literature or art, mathematics or biology.16

In other words, if hell is real, what should I do tomorrow? Indeed, what should I do with the rest of my life?

In his brilliant essay ‘Learning in War-Time’ (which repays careful reading), CS Lewis comments, “Before I became a Christian I do not think I fully realized that one’s life, after conversion, would inevitably consist in doing most of the same things one had been doing before: one hopes, in a new spirit, but still the same things”.17 Lewis remarks that when he went to fight in the Great War, he thought that it would be “all war”, but the nearer he got to the front line, the less everyone spoke about the campaign.18 Why? Because it is fantastical to think that a soldier’s life consists of nothing else but ‘active service’ for one’s country and fighting the enemy 24/7. Normal life continued on the frontline, albeit under difficult circumstances. In the trenches, soldiers still read books, wrote letters, enjoyed the simplicities of hot meals and warm clothes, told jokes, cried and laughed together. In other words, life, even in a war, is more than the war; and the Christian life is more than just saving people from hell—as vital and essential as such an endeavour is. The Christian religion, even though it occupies our concentration, time, energy, money and the best of our resources, does not do so to the exclusion of natural human activities. Certainly God’s claims on our lives are infinite and inexorable, and every part of our lives should be lived in full submission to the Lord Jesus. But to think it necessarily follows from this that the only thing that matters in life is thinking about or doing ‘gospel ministry’ 24/7 is to have a truncated Christian worldview. To live as if the ‘sacred’ (as opposed to the ‘secular’) must occupy the whole of one’s concentration, time, energy, money, resources and so on is not only to have a distorted view of the Christian life (the Bible presents no such divide between ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’), it is to aim for the impossible. No matter how hard one tries, devoting one’s ‘active service’ to evangelism 24/7 is simply not possible, even for the full-time paid Christian worker.

Moreover, the reason no war or hell can suppress these natural human activities is because they are God-given in the first place, and are to be received with thanksgiving and enjoyed as things that are good in themselves (cf. Gen 1:31; 1 Tim 4:3). Eating and drinking—two activities that we think so little about in many ways—are to be performed for God’s glory (1 Cor 10:31), and not primarily as a ‘means to the end’ of doing more evangelism so that people can be saved from hell, as is sometimes insinuated. Certainly, at one level, eating and drinking are a means to this good end, but that is not Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 10:31: food and drink exist primarily for the glory of God. All this is to say that the doctrine of hell does not mitigate or even suppress the natural human activities that God has blessed his world with, nor should it necessarily change what you were doing before you became a Christian (1 Cor 7).

This means that the Christian minister can take a day off or go on holiday, and enjoy these things as something good in and of themselves (not just to recharge the batteries for ‘more evangelism’). The Christian can remain in the job they are already in and do it “heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col 3:23). The Christian student can read English literature at university for the love of good writing. The Christian teenager can go out for an evening with friends, enjoy a movie and not worry about evangelizing everyone on the way there or on the way home; that night, he or she can go to sleep with a clear conscience, and sleep for the glory of God. It is okay to mow the lawn, clean the pool, read the newspaper, walk the dog, play the guitar, do the shopping, bath the kids. It really is God-honouring and gospel-loving to do all those things and to enjoy them as good things in themselves to be received with thanksgiving from our good and gracious Father, even while hell exists: “An appetite for these things exists in the human mind, and God makes no appetite in vain”.19 Moreover, Jesus rose bodily with normal human desires for food and drink, and in so doing, reaffirmed God’s physical world and natural human desires as things that would be an essential part of the new creation. The Christian hope is a realistic one—a new heavens and a new earth. Understanding God’s affirmation of his physical world and the order he has ordained for it is a helpful framework in which to deal with hell.

Alongside understanding the normal human (Christian!) life, observing the way God made the world to operate also helps to keep hell in perspective. At some point “in the beginning”—perhaps after the Fall (we don’t know)—God created hell. Yet, despite its existence, God established a working order to the world that neither the Fall nor hell mitigate. In Genesis 9, God reaffirmed his rhythmical order to the physical world: day and night, summer and winter, springtime and harvest. After the Fall and in the age of redemption, there is still day and night, a time to work and a time to sleep. As Ecclesiastes 3 states, “there is a time for everything under the sun”—yes, everything. There is a time to talk about hell and a time to go to the beach; a time to evangelize and a time to sweep the driveway; a time for tract distribution and a time for games with the kids; a time to pray for the unsaved and a time to watch the World Cup.

Furthermore, if we think that this is somehow ‘out of touch’ with the ‘last days’, then we must remember how Jesus lived: for him, there was a time to study the Torah and a time to work with wood; a time to heal the crowds and a time for dinner with friends; a time for a wedding and a time for a sermon; a time to go away, ‘rest a while’ and pray, and a time to observe the lilies of the field. Just as God in the Old Testament moved with majestic leisureliness through history (why did he take so long to bring about his promises?), so Jesus never ran anywhere (that we know of), and, on the one occasion where he should have ran (when Lazarus was about to die), he delayed two days. You may say, “Yes, but he was God and he knew that he would raise him from the dead”. Exactly; that’s why he was able to keep hell in perspective, and so should we.

In relation to this, I want to say that in my experience of modern evangelicalism, there is a certain kind of ‘evangelical busyness/activism’ in which marriages are compromised, kids are neglected and people with real issues are forgotten. This busyness has more to do with an insipid Arminianism than with a robust Calvinism. Christ is on his throne; he has sent his Spirit into the world to call his elect irresistibly and apply the benefits of his saving death, so that on the last day, he will lose none of those whom the Father has given him. It is this kind of Reformed theology that should lead to a vibrant and active gospel ministry in our churches and lives. But at the same time, it does not create an either/or fallacy with the many other good things God calls on us to do and enjoy—for example, loving our wives, playing with our kids, working hard, receiving our food and wine with glad hearts, and then, at the end of the day, going to bed and sleeping to his glory—all while hell exists.

10. Heaven

Tenthly and finally, hell shall not mar heaven. JAT Robinson has stated that “In a universe of love, there can be no heaven which tolerates a chamber of horrors, no hell for any which does not at the same time make it a hell for God”.20 Evangelicals have perhaps downplayed the aspect of Christ’s death that accomplishes in no uncertain terms the ‘restoration of all things’ (cf. Col 1:20). In this regard, John Wenham is right to warn against the snare of some sort of eschatological ‘symmetry’,21 or even an implicit dualistic ‘stalemate’ between God and evil. So what do we then do with an eternal hell in the new creation? Our first port of call is, of course, Scripture. Jesus said to the thief on the cross that he would experience “Paradise” (Luke 23:43), yet Revelation speaks explicitly of the smoke of torment that arises forever and ever, and of the eternal lake of fire (Rev 14:11, 20:10). While in our minds we might find the two incompatible, we should be cautious of teaching our Lord lessons on compatibilism: there is nothing in Scripture that hints in any way that hell will somehow disturb or spoil the enjoyment of heaven.

WGT Shedd may provide some help by viewing hell as only a ‘corner’ in the universe.22 But perhaps JI Packer is more on target when he considers the issue theologically:

… it is said that the joy of heaven will be marred by knowledge that some continue under merited retribution. But this cannot be said of God, as if the expressing of his holiness in retribution hurts him more than it hurts the offenders; and since in heaven Christians will be like God in character, loving what he loves and taking joy in all his self-manifestation, including his justice, there is no reason to think that their joy will be impaired in this way.23

Therefore, when Jesus said to the thief on the cross that “today” he would be with him in “Paradise” (Luke 23:43), we can have full confidence that Jesus’ “Truly” was not a wish, but rather a promise: if God is perpetually happy within himself as the glorious Trinity—even while he judges sinners and punishes them justly in hell—then, in the new creation, there is no reason to doubt that our joy will be perfect and complete, for when we see him, we shall be like him.24


1 Cited in E Donnelly, Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Heaven and Hell, Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, 2001, p. 17.

2 ‘Hell’s fury unleashed’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 2009. Accessed online: May 2010.

3 Donnelly provides some sad examples (Heaven and Hell, pp. 32-33).

4 Cited in Donnelly, Heaven and Hell, p. 8.

5 L Newbigin, ‘Confessing Christ in a Multi-Religion Society’, Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology, 12, 1994, pp. 130-31.

6 T Keller, ‘The Importance of Hell’. Accessed online: March 2010.

7 CS Lewis, ‘The Weight of Glory’ in C. S. Lewis Essay Collection: Faith, Christianity and the Church, HarperCollins, London, 2002, pp. 105-106.

8 J Betjeman, ‘Before the Anaesthetic, or A Real Fright’ cited in J Blanchard, Whatever Happened to Hell?, p. 60.

9 B Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects, Touchstone, New York, 1967, p. 111.

10 CS Lewis, ‘Learning in War-time’ in C.S. Lewis Essay Collection: Literature, Philosophy and Short Stories, HarperCollins, London, 2002, p. 171.

11 J Blanchard, Whatever Happened to Hell? Evangelical Press, Darlington, 1993, pp. 297-98.

12 Bartholomäus Ringwaldt (possibly), c. 1556; translated from German to English by William B Collyer in 1812.

13 This is not to suggest that a Christian can lose their salvation, or have no assurance that their salvation is secure. Rather, it is say that one of the means of grace that God uses to keep Christians persevering to the end, fighting sin and obeying his commands, is the very real danger of hell. See Thomas R Schreiner and Ardel B Caneday (The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance & Assurance, IVP, Leicester, 2001) and PT O’Brien (The Letter to the Hebrews, Pillar New Testament Commentary, Apollos, Nottingham, 2010) on the relevant verses.

14 DL Edwards and J Stott, Essentials: A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1988, p. 313.

15 Thomas Carlyle, reference unknown. In defense of lost references, see Hebrews 4:4.

16 CS Lewis, ‘Learning in War-Time’, in C. S. Lewis Essay Collection: Literature, Philosophy and Short Stories, p. 172.

17 ibid., p. 173.

18 ibid., p. 173.

19 ibid., p. 175.

20 JAT Robinson, ‘Universalism—Is it Heretical?’, Scottish Journal of Theology, 2, 1949, p. 155.

21 J Wenham, The Enigma of Evil. Can We Believe in God’s Goodness?, IVP, Leicester, 1985, p. 32 n. 7.

22 WGT Shedd, The Doctrine of Endless Punishment, Banner of Truth, Edinburgh, 1990, p. 159.

23 JI Packer, ‘The Problem of Eternal Punishment’, Evangel, 10:2, Summer 1992, p. 18.

24 I am indebted to Charles De Kiewit, David Gibson and Simon Flinders for their feedback on this article.

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