Against a Perverse View of Hell

I’ve been sounding the Scripture on the doctrines of sin, hell, and salvation, and found most of what I’ve heard from churchgoers on these core areas of doctrine is outright blasphemy. Hell is the separation of light and darkness (Gen 1:3, Jn 1:5), which is “very good” (Gen 1:31) and “beautiful” (Eccl 3:11).

Christ spoke plainly of hell, never working anybody into a frenzy, and always using it to confront and rebuff the wolves in sheep’s clothing, in order to drive them away from His flock. The reason for his equanimity regarding hell ought to be clear: Christ came to save mankind from sin, not from hell.

As Augustine observed (Enchiridion Chap 111), and as is evident in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus and Matthew 18: 6 (cf Matt 12:39-40 & Jon 2:1,8), hell is far better than sin, because it is the cessation of sin. In other words, hell is the best condition that darkness (Psa 36:1) will ever experience. Indeed, hell is a grace, not only because a self-existent God always acts freely and gratuitously, but because hell is a gift that prevents annihilation, the return of a creature made from nothing back to nothing. God wonderfully preserves all his creation (Eccl 3:14), because He is justly loving in all He does (Psa 145), even in His wrath. There is great assurance of His love to be found in the doctrine of wrath and hell, even if most are blind to this truth.

For those with eyes to see, there is a beauty in the rich man’s preserved humanity in hell. He not only uses the same honorific language toward Abraham and Lazarus that he would have expected at his own feasts, but still cares for his brothers. I think this is what Dante saw clearly when he wrote his Inferno. No wonder James tells us not to slander, but merely to acknowledge who is darkness and who is light.

This truth takes all force and cogency away from Cain’s political church, and allows us to walk away from its lies. All this raises an important question: who are these perverts in pulpits and pews who have been contradicting the Scripture for as long as I can remember? They do the very opposite of Christ, stirring people to frenzy, and using “salvation from hell” to invite the wolves into the sheepfold to devour the sheep. They “delight in thieves and throw their lot in with adulterers.” Ironically, these same people teach that God is willing to forgive everyone, in contradiction to Deuteronomy 29. Yet the one person God says he is “never willing to forgive” is the churchgoer who invokes His blessing, while despising the righteousness of the Law (= Christ’s blood), the same Law these churchgoers trample on by using the tithe to, like Cain, build buildings and platforms contrary to Deuteronomy 14.

I’m beginning to see why Luther was so calm about wiping the dust off his feet when he met resistance in the street, but was so distraught about wolves in the church. I see the same combination of calm, and fight against toxic heretics (“wolves”), in the Cappadocian and Nicene church.

Babylon’s fall is imminent in our day, just as that Babylon of the first century (Rome) was imminent in John’s day. Unlike the fall of Rome, the church buildings in our day will not be preserved, but will be the first to be plowed for the making of pastures and fertile fields, giving way to fig trees as the meeting places where neighbors discuss God’s love and glory. The God who destroyed his own temple three times has no tolerance for these deceivers who trample his courts with deceit and injustice.

“How the faithful city has become a prostitute.” That prostitute is destined to soon be trampled by the Beast.

“Come out of her my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.”

“Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by.”

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