Apologetics Evangelism Radio Theology

Hell – Q and A on Janet Parshall Show

This months In the Market with Janet Parshall was again on the subject of Hell.  The reason was that there were so many phone calls last time that Janet wanted to return to the subject.  Her instincts were correct – the phone lines were jammed for the whole show – which really turned into a Q and A. I found the whole thing fascinating. Your thoughts as always appreciated.




  1. Yes, it is a tricky one. You made the statement “none of us gets to heaven because by nature all of us are sinful.”

    Again – I would return to the suggestion I made earlier about a doctrine of original goodness as well as one about original sin and many considering self “bad” in my experience and life being tough enough without hearing more bad stuff. Well – I suppose the other side of the coin to that is that this is not about feelings and if one feels one doesn’t’ like something, then aligning oneself to whatever is comfortable. So the two traps that can be fallen into perhaps – insensitive proclamation of “truth” (you are a sinner, you need to repent or you are going to hell) or a “feel good” “prosperity gospel” (come to Jesus and God will make you happy and prosperous because when you are happy, God is happy and when you are rich – that’s God’s blessing – Amen?).

    Is it not the reality that (as Augustin put I I think) the gospel distresses the comfortable and comforts the distressed?

    It seems to me that Jesus came first with the good news the he had come to give sight to the blind, release for the oppressed and to declare the year of the Lord’s favour. Then the kick – that a prophet is without honour only among his own people. Pointing to how historically prophets had been treated people – killing the messenger because they didn’t like the message. then later Jesus weeping over Jerusalem.

    The gospel message hasn’t changed but I wonder, how it might best be communicated – might that be in need of consideration in the light of change in culture. What I do like David is what you have said about ploughing soil for then seed to be planted. Is there an approach where it is neither the extremes of “your a sinner” or “God wants you to be happy and rich” that can be compassionate and both relevant to the culture we are in and true to the gospel?

    It appears from what Jesus said in the beatitudes in response to a particular issue “great IS your reward in heaven” (emphasis mine). So it would seem, would it not that heaven is present, here and now from what he says as well as something for the future. Reading the news every day doe seem somewhat to depict hell – and as for emotional hell well how many people are already experiencing that or have experienced it? Sometimes it hast to be said at the hands of insensitive and/or triumphalistic preaching – the kind that the apostle Paul would call false teaching.

    And therein lies the precedent does it not with Paul – to be a Greek to the Greeks, Roman to the Romans, Gentile to the Gentiles making nothing a hindrance to the gospel. To live in and among the culture, being as everyone else, conversations seasoned with grace as well as truth, compassion as well as challenge.

    In the service of others, remembering that Jesus didn’t come to lord it over humanity but as a servant. .

  2. Don’t think what David said about our sinful nature, is tricky, Adam. We are all sinners in Adam, When Adam sinned, in him, I sinned – known as the fall, and the curse was pronounced.

    But I’ve covered this in one of David’s other posts,

    As Jesus said ” Why do you call me good? Only God is good.”

    Dr Michael Reeves book, “The Good God” is excellent. And no I’ve no allegiance to him. As with his other book, it is deeply edifying.

    Original “very good”..ness was superseded by the fall of all of humanity by and in Adam, to be restored by the inauguration of new creation and humanity in Christ Jesus, the last Adam. So we are either part of the old humanity, of the flesh, of born only of human parents or “born from above” born of God by Holy Spirit, (like the first and last Adam) into a new humanity. Nicodemus didn’t understand this need. And at the same time transferred from the kingdom of darkness (the god of this world- satan, who humanity, unknowingly, follows in a state of lostness) into the Kingdom of light. Is it not loving to warn our neighbours? And not to do so shows a hardness of heart, (unlike DL Moody’s) the icicles of indifference, and reveals that we do not know Jesus very well. But here I convict myself

    Why did God have to become incarnate, have to come to earth? Why did God the Son, Jesus, Saviour have to die? To “become sin”, to become a “curse.”

    What did Jesus save us from?

    What did Jesus save us for? His purpose?

    Jesus is “Good News” in contrast to the “fall.”

    Did Jesus descend to Hell? A subject of its own.

    As for how to preach the “Good News” of Jesus in the context contemporary society, the “Good News ” is more wondrously multi-facetted than set against sin/hell. Tim Keller is just one exponent of “contextualisation” as his book on preaching more than ably demonstrates, much to the discomfort of some evangelicals (as David well knows.)

    But surely the main point about the whole programme was the neglect or avoidance of hell in society, and the contemporary church.

    And why would “mere” eternal separation from God trouble the atheist? As you say Adam, Jesus comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable.

  3. Geoff,

    What I was commenting on about tricky was how to go about communicating hell and tying that up with the doctrine of original sin, suggesting a doctrine of original goodness. I am not in denial of any of us not being without sin. However I would offer that humanity being created good by God and righteousness in God’s eyes being found in Christ might be an emphasis to make and talk about hell and sin in that context might be the way to go in the current climate. I don’t think any kind of message of “your a sinner and you mus repent or you are going to hell” whatever truth is in it is going to work. Perhaps 30 years ago or so it would have with more of a Christian foundation to society but with increasing secularism I’m suggesting becoming a secularist to the secularist as Paul became a Gentile to the Gentiles so that the Gospel not be hindered. Does that make sense?

    I hope that clears up any miscommunication.

    I like your point about separation from God not troubling the atheist. With that in mind and your affirmation about my comment about the Gospel comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable the words of “Amazing Grace” come to my mind.

    “T’was grace the taught my heart to fear,
    And grace my fear relieved.”

  4. A brief response: I wonder if “going to heaven” language is at all helpful seeing that (a) the public mind is of harps and clouds; (b) it is not biblical the focus of which is “to be with Jesus” / “with me in paradise”. This second point points us to the relational intensity of eternal life in Christ. Given the very limited opportunity of the phone-in perhaps this might have been touched on. In all though, a very worthwhile 45 minutes! Thank you.

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