Guest / Limited Access /

It was six pages near the end of the book that exploded like a bombshell within evangelicalism. The book was Evangelical Essentials (InterVarsity) and the year was 1988. As the book's subtitle announced, it was A Liberal-Evangelical Dialogue between liberal Anglican David L. Edwards and evangelical Anglican John Stott. For 338 pages, Edwards and Stott ranged over many issues, including the gospel, biblical authority, miracles, ethics, and missions. But near the end, in those six pages, Stott tentatively defended annihilationism—the view that unbelievers are finally annihilated and thus do not experience torment that is eternal in duration (as traditionalists believe).

Traditionalists, who make up most of evangelicalism, were shocked. Some, like John H. Gerstner, went so far as to question Stott's salvation. Evangelicals have been debating the subject ever since, both sides producing books and articles defending their views and contesting the opposition.

Out of England came another book this past April, but of a different order: The Nature of Hell: A Report by the Evangelical Alliance Commission of Unity and Truth Among Evangelicals. It is an evenhanded introduction to the historical, biblical, and theological issues that pertain to the evangelical debate over the nature and duration of hell. I have been studying these matters for seven years, have written two books on hell, and I regard this work as an outstanding resource for quickly accessing the issues. It is also a model of how evangelicals can agree to disagree.

The hell debate

With the publication of Stott's views, evangelicals were spurred to study the issue more deeply and to respond. Perhaps emboldened by Stott's example, others followed and declared their commitment ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
Biotech: Tissue of Lies?
Latest stem-cell research shows no urgent need to destroy human embryos for the cause of science.
Current IssueChristianity Today’s 2017 Book Awards
Christianity Today’s 2017 Book Awards
Our picks for the books most likely to shape evangelical life, thought, and culture.
RecommendedDo All Children Go to Heaven?
Subscriber Access Only Do All Children Go to Heaven?
Reconciling original sin and death of the innocent.
TrendingCompassion Has 'Very Little Hope' for India, Sets Deadline to Shut Down Sponsorships
Compassion Has 'Very Little Hope' for India, Sets Deadline to Shut Down Sponsorships
About 145,000 children have already lost its assistance with food, education, and health care.
Editor's PickThe Church’s Integrity in the Trump Years
The Church’s Integrity in the Trump Years
It begins by recognizing the name above every name.
Christianity Today
Undying Worm, Unquenchable Fire
hide thisOctober 23 October 23

In the Magazine

October 23, 2000

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.