A Review and Critique of The Four Views on Hell

I just finished off another book. Every time I’m able to finish a book I think it’s a really amazing thing to me, still. Below is part of a review I did on this particular book called The Four Views on Hell (Amazon). Even though I had to read the book for a seminary class it was still worth the read, though perhaps not quite as closely as I had to read it.

The Doctrine of Hell is something rarely taught anymore in our churches, and it’s an important part of the Christian faith, and our story as fallen beings. There is much more of the prosperity gospel preached today than the reality of a real place of separation from God, an eternal punishment, for those who do not trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior. For those who confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in their heart that God raised him from the dead, will be saved.

If you would like to read the entire review, you can read Book Critique of Four Views on Hell by Walvoord in a pdf form.  Below is the summary of that review.  The book does take a good look at four different views of Hell, basically, the Traditional View (Orthodox or Literally View), Annihilationism, Purgatory, and Universalism.

In this review of Four Views on Hell, each argument was presented and evaluated. The reader was given an argument on Hell where one could quickly see the demarcation lines between each view. However, all four authors stop somewhat short from making a full apologetic case for their particular view in question. They all agree that historically, the Traditional or Literal View is the orthodox view, and then “they all acknowledge it has fallen out of favor” as of late.[21] “Today a number of evangelical churchmen embrace variations of [these views] in terms such as ‘[B]iblical Universalism’, ‘qualified Universalism’, and ‘conditional immortality’” as the alternative to the Literal View and the eternal separation from God.[22]

The underlying issue as to why the Literal view is no longer favored is loosely addressed throughout the book, but has an overall tone in line with our pluralistic society saying no just God of grace and mercy can possibly send anyone to an eternal punishment, no matter the sin. “How can we project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness [Who] tortures people without end,” which is what the Literal view teaches?[23] With this as the general tone of each view, a better examination of the views would be to treat them within the culture setting of today as: The Doctrine of Hell, Annihilationism, Purgatory, and Universalism.

The doctrines that most closely follow Scripture are not always going to be in line with secular society, or liberal theology, but looking at these four views of Hell is beneficial to the reader no matter what theological base they align with today. Of the four views, Crockett’s argument for a less literal view of Hell was well thought out and presented, and makes Hell more palatable to the modern day reader, but Walvoor’s Literal View is still the most orthodox, and most closely aligned with the teaching of Scripture, and therefore, the best alternative of the four.

[1] Jonathan Edwards, The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader, 1st Edition, ed. Wilson H. Kimnach, Kenneth P. Minkema and Douglas A. Sweeney (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999), 50.
[2] John Walvoord, Zachary Hayes and Clark Pinnock, Four Views on Hell, EPub Edition, ed. Stanley N. Gundry and William Crockett (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 7.
[3] Dr. John Walvoord, About Dr. John Walvoord, http://www.walvoord.com/about-dr-john-walvoord (accessed February 15, 2012).
[4] William V. Crockett, Amazon.com Author Page William V. Crockett, Amazon.com, http://www.amazon.com/William-V.-Crockett/e/B00653NJTU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0 (accessed February 15, 2012).
[5] Zachary J. Hayes, About Zachary J. Hayes, http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Authors/Author.htm?ContributorID=HayesZ&QueryStringSite=Zondervan (accessed February 15, 2012).
[6] Bob Allen, Controversial theologian Clark Pinnock dies, August 18, 2010, http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/5451/53/ (accessed February 15, 2012).
[13] Rev Jeff Wright, “Book Review: Four Views on Hell,” Jeff Wright: Exalt Christ, April 03, 2010, http://jeffwright.exaltchrist.com/?p=690 (accessed February 15, 2012).
[18] J. R. Root, “Universalism,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2001, 2nd ed, 1234.
[20] Eric Stoddart and Gwilym Pryce, “Observed Aversion to Raising Hell in Pastoral Care: The Conflict Between Doctrine and Practice,” Journal of Empirical Theology (Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden) 18, no. 2 (January 2005): 133.
[21] Cris D. Putnam, “Book Critique: Four Views On Hell,” Logos Apologia, March 14, 2011, http://www.logosapologia.org/?p=1725 (accessed February 15, 2012).
[22] R. P. Lightner, “Hell,” Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2001, 2nd ed., 547-548.

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