by Dan Phillips
This is not new, but it is new to me; and may be to you.
Here's part of a transcript from this page, with some cleaning up and emphasis:
Some of my thoughts:
- Did the polarization of Heaven and Hell into two diametrically-opposed destinations really arise during the Middle Ages (cf. Matthew 25:32-46; Revelation 20:4-15)?
- If someone "cannot understand" the concept of a final judgment, is that a comment on the concept, or the individual?
- Is Hell something that "happens" when we make certain philosophical choices, or is it a place of judgment and punishment?
- If Hell were an actual place, what language would the Bible have had to use to make that fact clearer than it is in the text as we have it?
- If the writers of Scripture saw Hell as "shocking and horrible," and used "vivid and terrifying" language to describe Hell, but it is a mistake to take it as a "literal description" of Hell — (1) then shouldn't the reality be more terrifying than their language?; and (2) is what Wright describes more shocking and horrible and terrifying?; and (3) how could they have signaled more clearly that they were not speaking metaphorically?
- Does Wright leave the impression that avoiding Hell is worth cutting off precious and irreplaceable parts of our body (Matthew 5:29-30)?
- How does Wright's notion of Hell relate to Jesus' flat statement that God throws the damned, body and soul, into Hell — and that He should be feared above all else for that reason (Matthew 10:28; cf. Revelation 20:15)?
- Is there something un-Biblical about viewing the last judgment as a separation of two humanities with two starkly different eternal destinations (Matthew 25:32-46; Revelation 20:4-15)?
- Is it that view of judgment and Hell that is "Western" — or is it not Wright's own existential, philosophized presentation that is thoroughly and almost squeakingly "Western"?
- Does Wright's explanation of Hell as the "progressive shrinking of human life" strike you as "more sober and sad" than unquenchable and eternal fire, endless gnawing of worms, in fathomless darkness, cut off from every vestige of God's goodness?
- Do you have to been born in the East to understand fire and darkness and wrath and judgment?
- Does Wright present his unbelieving listeners with a Hell that is just and unbearable punishment for crimes of infinite gravity and guilt that we committed against a blindingly holy God; or with a Hell that is a rather tame, if "sad," natural consequence of our philosophical bent?
- Which is truer to Jesus' presentation of Hell?
- Does Wright communicate any urgency in escaping Hell?
UPDATE: see also this companion-piece.