These four professors argue the following views of hell: literal, metaphorical, purgatorial and conditional interpretations. This book peers inside the different theories of hell, each of their relation to the Bible and the evolution throughout time. Each chapter begins with that particular scholar’s view, followed by the rebuttal by his colleagues. Brief Summary The first chapter is written by, John Walvoord, and he begins by providing the foundation for the literal view of hell. The author expends the greater part of this section of the book describing these fundamental principles.
He argues that hell is a position of perpetual punishment for those who are sinners in the Earth. He derives this view from native translations of the Bible using both the Old and New Testaments. Walvoord exactly takes the words from the Bible’s predictions and the absolute inerrancy of the Bible to suggest that this is the only way to view hell and eternal punishment. The chapter concludes with the author using the literal view to encourage the reader to help people avoid hell and the painfulness, by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The second chapter is written by William V.
Crockett and he has taken the metaphorical view of hell, as read in the Bible and studied by scholars. His view of hell is comparable to the preceding author’s view; it only differs in how the punishment will be administered to the lost. The author has strong Calvinsitic ties, in that he believes that the fortellings of the punishment of hell is not to be taken literally, but as a metaphor. Crockett further states that the reality of hell is indescribable with words and the words that are contained in the Bible are only a breakdown that the human mind can absorb.
The chapter concludes with the author stating his disdain for the conditional view. In the third chapter, Zachary J. Hayes takes on the subject of purgatory in the hell discussion. Purgatory in this book is a place where the dead will go, when they don’t quite make it to heaven, but are not bad enough for hell. Notably the author cannot find any Biblical references for purgatory, however he does state that the idea of purgatory evolved from a personal tradition that the Catholic Church adopted. Hayes does also note that he agrees with the metaphorical view of hell.
In fourth chapter of the book is written by Dr. Clark Pinnock on the conditional view of hell. The conditional view is also referred to as annihilation, which means that hell will be a punishment of fire and lead to utter destruction of sinners. The actual destruction is the punishment, not the fire itself. Pinnock, uses diverse scriptures that support his claim of everlasting death and God’s moral values. Critical interaction with the author’s work The authors’ goal of this book is to give an educated as well as Biblical look at the different versions of hell.
Although the word is talked about many times, but the authors’ aim is to give people all the information available on the subject. After which the reader can make personal decision about their own personal truth. The authors do achieve his goal of factually representing the literal, metaphorical, purgatorial and conditional interpretations of hell. Each author has not imposed his personal opinion or view of hell, but however stated the facts from Biblical and theological sources.
Also, having each author evaluate the other authors’ arguments shows potential fallacies in each and gives the reader information to further reflect, evaluate and draw personal conclusions. The strengths of this book would be first, the book was written by students of the word who supported the majority of their arguments with scripture first and with theology second. In the literal view of hell the author comes directly from scriptures and uses those scriptures to plainly paint a picture that we have already been taught since childhood.
In the metaphorical argument of hell the author uses scriptures that show support the claim that the descriptions of hell are only be used as metaphors and not to be interpreted literally. The chapter on the conditional view of hell is well written and covers the punishment and destruction parts of hell thoroughly. The first weakness that we encounter in this book is the fact that in the literal view of hell the author does not address the issue of why the scriptures must be taken literally, instead of figuratively.
In the metaphorical view of hell the author never addresses the issue of what will actually be, nor does he attempt to answer questions that seem to violate the traits of God. The author in the conditional view of hell uses much of his writing to appeal to the human senses and not to justify those emotions or feelings with scriptures. In the view on purgatory the author spends very little to no time talking about hell, but the time that is between heaven and hell. Although purgatory is the median between heaven and hell the author seems to focus on how the soul can make it to heaven and not the latter.
In my opinion I feel that this book would not be suitable for all lay persons to read. I feel that this book would be of best use in the hands of all persons who teach in the church. This book would not only give them basis for what they believe in, but it would also give them the opportunity to understand the contradictions in various beliefs. I feel that this book could be a useful tool to teach about sin. Although the authors have different views on what hell will actually be like, but it does hold one idea in agreement.
Hell is a real place it, and sinners will be there. After some research there seem to be many other books that are written about hell. Those other books, after reading summaries, take a similar approach and try to inform the reader what hell is going to be like and what it is not going to be. Many of those books not only deal with hell, but they also address heaven as well with the same level of concern. Conclusion In conclusion the book “The four views of hell,” the author does achieve his goal.
However I feel that the chapter on purgatory did not fit in the book, because the argument was not supported by scriptures and does not necessary classify itself as hell. The book does make thing a little bit about heaven, but more about sin. This book points the finger back to the place where we need not only teach about heaven, but teach also about hell. Many people get lost in the mind frame that there is only heaven or life on earth.