A Desiring God Article on Hell and Questions that Need to be Raised in Light of Corruption, Scandal and Problems in Evangelicalism

Evangelical Christians take hell literally, especially the Neo-Calvinists. At Desiring God recently Greg Morse wrote a post about hell. This blog would like to use that article to raise some questions about hell and make some observations. Having seen a lot of scandal and working with dark topics this blog has some questions and would like to ask, could hell be like heaven when you consider the people who are going to heaven yet who are deeply corrupt? 

“Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company.”

Mark Twain 

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Revelation 21:8 NIV 

Cemetery in New Orleans 

Al Pacino from The Devil’s Advocate 

Evangelical theology, but especially the Neo-Calvinists take the topic of hell seriously. Evangelicals have written a lot about the topic and here are some examples to feature which I found at The Gospel Coalition. 

  1. Erik Raymond, “Is Hell for Real?
  2. J.I. Packer, “What is Hell?
  3.  Aaron Armstrong, “Erasing Hell.” 
  4. The Gospel Coalition, “Don Carson on the Permanence of Hell.” 

 

Greg Morse at Desiring God on Hell

At Desiring God the other day Greg Morse had an article called, “What Does Hell Say About God?” In the article Greg explores the theology of hell and the seriousness of it. He states that some people can’t face the issue of hell and can’t deal with it. Then Greg breaks it down into four categories. For example who will be in hell? The luster, adulterer, the person who rejected God, etc… In the next point he reminds people as to what hell says about God. God can not be glorified in hell. Hell shows God’s wrath. The lake of fire and the gnashing of teeth are a reality that is to be feared. The third bullet point is about what Jesus knows about Hell. Jesus knows it better in that he once descended into hell. Was the King of Glory rejected by some who chose pornography and  ESPN over God? Finally Greg closes out his post by reminding people that they should pay more attention to fairy tales. This is a brief synopsis and I would encourage you to read the article at Desiring God in full. 

 

Evangelical Scandal and Corruption and Hell

Here is what staggers me. This blog has written frequently and regularly on evangelical Christianity and scandal. The enormity of it stuns me in the end. I have ended up writing about nearly every church that I have once called home. The material that people have emailed, told, and shared has been difficult at times. Domestic abuse, child pornography, rape, child sex abuse, financial greed, and more. Writing this blog has taught me a lot about so many issues. My prior understandings about domestic abuse and more was changed by this blog. Its much worse then I thought it to be. And yet evangelical churches are drowning in such corruption. And usually many of the same churches mired in scandal work to warn people about hell. 

 

Why Would God Trust a Church Overwhelmed with Scandal to Convey His Message? Can Hell be Like Heaven When You Consider Some of the Evangelical Christians? 

Greg Morse’s article comes from Desiring God. Desiring God is the brainchild of John Piper. Let me break down something to make a point. One of C.J. Mahaney’s strongest defenders has been John Piper. As all the child sex abuse has poured out of Mahaney’s ministry Piper has defended Mahaney and claimed that Sovereign Grace has had perfect pr sound doctrine. The theologian who has most influenced John Piper is Jonathan Edwards who left on the psyche the image of God dangling people over hell in the Puritan interpretation of that doctrine. So the sexual assault of a child is fine with John Piper as long as he organization covering it up has sound doctrine. Does that not embody corruption? 

Now here is what I don’t understand. Hell is real according to many evangelical Christians. And yet many evangelical churches charged with preaching the Gospel are bogged down in scandal and problems. Why would the Lord entrust such an important message about people’s salvation to organizations that cover up child sex abuse, rape and so much more? When I stop and consider a large number of evangelicals I think of their teaching on hell. For example Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, D.A. Carson, Mark Dever, etc… Then I contemplate those that engage in Christian Nationalism who teach about hell. People like Robert Jeffress, Robert Morris and more. Many of these people on both sides of the fence are convinced they are going to heaven. After all they serve the Lord or are part of the elect, etc… So here is the question if people like C.J. Mahaney or Robert Jeffress or Mark Driscoll are going to be in heaven, then why would I want to go there? I wouldn’t want to be in the same room…why would I want to spend an eternity with them? But here is an alternative thought as well. When you see the people and other evangelical Christians who are going to heaven, could hell be a blessing? After all would you be around as many people that are as arrogant, and condescending? In theory no….so why is that bad? I write this post as means to raise some issues about evangelicals and their teaching of hell in context of evangelical corruption. 

6 thoughts on “A Desiring God Article on Hell and Questions that Need to be Raised in Light of Corruption, Scandal and Problems in Evangelicalism

  1. Evangelical views of Hell finally became so burdensome that I started researching universalism–which led to researching the Early Church–which led to Orthodoxy. Though universalism is not accepted doctrine there (though some saints have indulged in it), it’s still a much better theology than the one I came from. And I no longer feel like a heretic for pointing at the parable of the sheep vs. goats and realizing, “Hey, wait a minute, Jesus never asked them which religion they followed.”

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    • ACTSHUWALLY, the very act of separating sheep and goats represents Jesus knowing what they believe. They are already sheep or already goats. Sheep being those born into Christ. You can get into a justification of faith by works convo with this “parable”, but it’s clear sheep and goats represent believers in Christ and non-believers. But anyone wanting to get into a deep dive of that should really know their own eschatology because that passage is referring to a future event when Jesus has returned to pass judgement.

      Far as the article here, I agree with the cringe-worthiness. Jesus seemed much more troubled about rich folks and wolves getting into heaven than he did about those with sexual sin or a lack of good deeds. But a pastor’s audience is largely those that aren’t rich and struggle in marriages, and preaching a fire and brimstone message to them to strike a chord is easy pickings and frankly, lame.

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  2. There is discussion about the sheep and the goats, but I am always especially struck by the Matthew 7:21-23 verses that talk about people doing things in the name of the Lord, sometimes seemingly great and “impressive” things, and yet God tells them to depart from Him because He never knew them. This tells me there are a lot of things done in the name of Christianity which does not necessarily mean that those doing them truly have a relationship with Jesus or a saving faith.

    These verses are immediately preceded by the verses warning us to look at the fruit of someone’s words and actions to help judge their true heart. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. That is also illustrative for us. We would do well to look for where the fruit of the Spirit is being evidenced, and where we are seeing the opposite.

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    • Ehhhhhhh, I gotta respectfully disagree. While on the subject of parables here, Jesus spoke about the wheat and the tares. All the workers want to get on with removing those nasty weeds during the growing season, cause clearly, they’re weeds right? They’ll destroy all that wheat! But the owner told them to hold off…wait till he does the harvest, and those that reap will take care of it. In the meantime, weeds will grow among the wheat, wheat will grow among the weeds…just leave it to the harvesters to separate things at harvest time. In other words, jumping to judgement is not for you and I. Jesus saved us so we don’t need to be perfect judges of others…just leave them be and don’t feel guilty about calling them out as Christians – and likewise, don’t feel obligated to calling them out because they act like heathens. Judgement on others for their “fruits” is a huge slippery slope and problem with many many churches out there.

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      • I agree that a judgmental attitude can be destructive and can sow a lot of strife, so I want to clarify my meaning. I am slow to judgement on individuals. I don’t know what is in another’s heart. I very often try to ascribe the most charitable reading possible to someone’s intentions or actions, even when they hurt me. In conflicts, we always taught our kids to try to place themselves in the other’s shoes and to try to gain an understanding of where they are coming from.

        And yet, we are to “test the spirits” and I think it is important to be aware of what is going on and to allow that to be part of our guide as to what situations we do or do not involve ourselves in, and at times how we should approach and interact with people, and most certainly how we evaluate the spiritual fitness of leaders before we follow them.

        I am more likely to judge situations or group dynamics rather than individual hearts. If I see a group dynamic leading to contentiousness, abuse, bullying, slander, anger, pride, etc., I feel pretty safe in distancing myself from such a situation and recognizing it as unChristian.

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      • Yep to all that, I just despise the “you’re going to hell” and “you’re unsaved because you’re fruits are bad” judgements people throw on others. There’s no problem calling out behavior, avoiding people, claiming they’re unfit to lead, etc based on Biblical principles of “being a Christian”. But we don’t know a saved heart, just the outward behavior. Criticize their sanctification, not their salvation. Jesus made it clear that salvation is His job.

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