Hell: it’s not a comfortable subject to broach with others. We probably don’t spend much time talking about it and as a result probably don’t spend too much time thinking about it either.
Recently the topic of hell has generated a considerable firestorm (pun intentional) of controversy with Rob Bell’s book Love Wins and the many responses, such as Francis Chan and Preston Sprinke’s Erasing Hell.
Into and partly because of this ongoing discussion, Zondervan has recently released the second edition of Four Views on Hell. This volume is edited by Preston Sprinkle (Chan’s cowriter on Erasing Hell) and features contributions from Denny Burk, John G. Stackhouse Jr., Robin A. Parry, and Jerry L. Walls.
All four contributors are Evangelical but each champions a different Protestant interpretation of what the Bible has to say about hell. Burk defends the view that has historically been dominant in the church: eternal conscious torment (think Dante’s Inferno). Stackhouse proposes instead the idea of terminal punishment, or annihilation. Parry suggests a universalist view that all eventually are redeemed (through Christ, distinguishing it from broader universalism). Lastly Walls argues for the existence of Purgatory and the tenability of Protestants believing in it.
So what exactly do they each have to say about hell?