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N.T. Wright On Hell

2 Comments

Christianity Today’s Out of Ur blog commences ‘a new weekly series on Out of Ur about the doctrine of Hell’.
Firstly they offer a three minute video of N.T. Wright answering the question: ‘What is Hell like? Does it even exist?’
(This is the title of the video and Wright commences talking without a statement about the precise question to which he is responding.)
The answer seems to be ‘not very nice’ and ‘yes, but…’.
It’s really hard to tell just what is going on.
Here’s the video.

This reminds me of stuff I’ve read in Robert Farr Capon’s writings, which I figured was some form of neo-orthodoxy.
Everyone’s part of the party unless they choose not to come. God doesn’t make anyone come and He allows those who choose not to come to go their way. It is not universalism, exactly. It’s just the neigboring property with a lovely sundeck overlooking universalism.
The ideas of jugdement, punishment and eternal concious suffering don’t come into it.
It seems to be more a petulant distance outside a party that lasts for an indeterminate period of time. (Until you decide to come in?) (Perhaps some form of annhilationism.)
Wright does remark that our decisions in this life really do matter.

(If you go and read the comments at the Out of Ur post you can read one by someone who believes that Jesus did not believe in eternal judgement and that any of His sayings about Hell were later additions to the inspired text.)

2 thoughts on “N.T. Wright On Hell

  1. I saw the video, and I appreciate what N.T. is trying to do–take seriously two seemingly contradictory teachings of Scripture. (1) That God is love, and he loves not just his friends but his enemies(!) and loves us “while we are still sinners,” and expects us to do the same. And (2) that there is a hell “where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” and the fire is never extinguished and the worm never dies.

    For most people, you have to either redefine their traditional understanding of what “loving enemies” means, or you have to redefine what “everlasting torment” means.

    I for one appreciate anyone who takes the Bible seriously enough to reconcile both those truths.

    • Thanks for taking the time to post.
      My confusion with Wright’s position stems from the idea that the most significant part of beliefs about judgement, heaven and hell flow directly from the teaching of Jesus himself.
      While the other writers of the Bible could be understood to be struggling to convey their understanding of these issues in concrete terms, Jesus knew exactly what he was talking about and was not limited in His capacity to convey it. He would endure it on the cross.
      In Wright’s video God seems to be the passive party, He’s done all He’s going to do and you take it or leave it.
      I can’t find that particular perspective in Jesus’ teaching on judgement.

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