Ur Video: Piper on Hell
John Piper follows up with his passionate belief in hell.

The second edition of our series on hell features John Piper. He's concerned that we're diminishing the centrality and importance of hell in our theology and proclamation. Do you agree?

Displaying 1–10 of 59 comments

still

February 11, 2010  12:45pm

Whoa, thank you for your "humanistic masterpiece" good words. The whole essence of the "Divine Proposal" I shared with Melody adds up to either one of the following words: serendipity or epiphany or grace. I feel I need a picture to paint the word.

Report Abuse

Karen

February 10, 2010  12:10pm

mmcia and prospecter, I really like your points and believe them to be quite pertinent to the debate between Paul C and Melody. They also resonate with insights from my Orthodox Christian faith. As an Orthodox, I have found it much more fruitful for my own walk with God to let the consensus of those recognized by the believers (and even non-believers) in their own eras as the most mature and holy members of the Church down through the ages be my guide to understanding the meaning and import of the Scriptures. I find I am no longer easily sidetracked down rabbit trails of proof texts and by uncertainty about what is most important to understand from the Scriptures. This is presented to me over and over again quite eloquently in the Liturgy of the Church (its doctrinal and Scriptural prayers and hymns). I have more than a lifetime's work before me, as it is, in struggling to obey what is clear from Scripture according to the teaching of the Church. It is abundantly clear that I am to seek God's grace to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbor as myself–that I may come to love even my enemies as Christ has loved me–and that it is only in so doing that I will be able to experience the fullness of Christ indwelling me and have communion with Him either here in this life or beyond the grave. I also add the caveat that from an Orthodox perspective regarding the matter of the soul's transition after the death of our mortal bodies and before the resurrection of the body, there is a mystery here into which we can see only very dimly and about which we can express even less–and so, istm, it behooves us to discuss with some humility. (I think mmcia's post points to one important aspect of that mystery.) I find great comfort, though, in the practice of the Orthodox Church (which discourages this sort of theoretical speculation, and rather focuses on what we here and now ought to be doing to be in communion with God). The Orthodox practice is to continue to remember in prayer at regular intervals loved ones who have passed from this life, and to expect that the faithful departed are also continuing to pray for us. This is also the practice of Orthodox Jews dating back to a time before Christ. How interesting then, that we have no record of Christ condemning this practice among His people or teaching His disciples to do otherwise.

Report Abuse

whoa

February 10, 2010  11:39am

Whoa, Dude...that be "still" and do time travel response is downright scary (although a humanistic masterpiece)! Reminds me of old Abe Lincoln's response to a powerfully articulate critic who used befuddling, though intellectual lingo, to attempt to make the President look foolish in front of his cabinet. Lincoln looked off into a field and asked his critic how many legs that cow in the field had. The man said incredulously, "Four." "What if we called the tail a leg," asked Abe? "Well then, I expect the answer would be five, Mr. President." To which the president responded, "No matter what you call it, or how intellectual the argument for five legs might sound, truth is still truth! There are still only four legs on that cow." Me thinks there might be some five or six legged cows muckying up this discussion. Intriguing and revealing discussion, though!

Report Abuse

sheerahkahn

February 10, 2010  11:04am

The essential problem is that people, not just Paul, have a problem reading the bible. They are looking for up-front, in your face, this is how it is answers. Ala, Direct answers to direct questions. It is quite American, and unfortunately, quite alien to the culture who produced the writers that wrote the the bible. Believe me, I would love to have just straight up, quantitative answers to my questions...it sucks wind to have to sit there and research both the biblical texts and the historical texts just to find out why the Hebrews were forbidden to eat certain foods. Criminy sakes, can't a beleiver get a straight answer! Nooo, no, I have to go digging through a bunch of papers to find that one! And so goes with the rest of the bible, and the mryiad of questions it gives birth, too. The book(s) was/is written for specific purpose, and it is up to us to figure what exactly was the purpose of that particular book(s). However, once again, our American mindset kicks in and we reduce the our thinking, and by association any answer to "absence of evidence is evidence of absence!" which intuitively we know is a crock, but hey, we reach for it a lot. And I do it too, so I'm just as guilty. Yes, there are translational issues about hell, but we all have to come to grips with the fact that emotive and poetic license is being used in the text. We also have to remember that G-d has set the verbage of the bible to do one of two things...entice people to read, discover, and have a dialogue with G-d; or, to frustrate to no end the casual observer whose only interest is to dig an interesting quote out to support a bias that has long been nurtured by a sinful nature. And the thing is that we all do this to one extent or another...all that really matters is if we, believers, are open to correction. I have clearly shown in the text that separation from G-d is eternal, and there is no "You are so annihilated!" Sorry, quaint, I'm sure, and nice a thought for those who would prefer a merciful coup de grace for unbeleivers, but alas, there is no scriptual support for that. We as a race are destined to be resurrected...some to eternal glory, and for those others...eternal shame. There will be those who can enter into the new Jerusalem, and those who will be forbidden to enter. There will be those who are excited about seeing G-d, and those who, like the rich man, only want the suffering to stop. Heaven is eternal, and hell is eternal...no matter what your definition of heaven is...it is good, wonderful, and eternal; and no matter what your definition of hell is...it is bad. Very, very bad. And worse still, oh so very eternal.

Report Abuse

prospector

February 10, 2010  9:58am

Interesting dialogue... I think this discussion would have been better served by asking a few simple questions rather than posting this sermon. Is hell real? What is hell? Who goes there? Why do we need a Savior? What does Jesus save us from? These might bring a little more clarity to the discussion. We might also do well to ignore what Acts doesn't say, what Piper is trying to say, or what Edwards said. Jesus made quite a few clear statements himself. Matthew 10:28 - Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Luke 12:5 - But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Luke 12:4 - In hell, where he was in torment... Matthew 23:33 - You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Matthew 8:12 - But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mark 9:47-49 - And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where 'their worm does not die,and the fire is not quenched.'

Report Abuse

still

February 10, 2010  12:55am

"I'm unclear as to what makes your proposal divine." Dear Melody, Before you read what will follow, please take a deep breath...hold it...let go...and let God. Now...begin drawing the child's breaths within you...by giving play to your imagination...that you are entering a time machine. Take a journey back to the olden times...in the twinkling of an eye...you rub your eyes...as you command a rare grand view - the Greek cultural ascent at its zenith amid the brilliance of the Classical Era and the emergence of the Roman Empire. Just then...you catch a glimpse of a passing strange ancient duo...and strike you with wonder - for both are crossing verbal swords with each other - over an identical "battle royal" that Paul C and you are verbally grappling with each other! Breathless, you return to your time machine...then take a journey of over 20 centuries of ancient history...back to the present. Still lost in amazement, you say to yourself, "That's the faraway distance of ancient times that the transmission of "battle royal" had threaded its way through up to the modern times and ultimately pitched its tent in the consciousness of Paul C and mine." Wonder of wonders! The phenomenon of "battle royal" transmission reminds me of sunlight in a different realm. Sunlight escapes from the nuclear-fusion-reaction brilliance of the 5500-degree C burning sun...travels the infinite span of space as heat and light at a blinding speed of 186,000 miles per second...and whizzes the 93,000,000 miles of space...and after 8 minutes...ultimately touches on the Earth's surface...at a cooled down temperature. There are two sides of the proverbial coin. On one side, the cooled down temperature is miraculously perfect. In a kitchen complexes housed in plant leaves, sunlight cooks the stew of water sipped from the soil and carbondioxide sniffed from the air to produce oxygen that sustains life in our planet. It is a boon. A manna from Heaven. A blessing. On the other side, the cooled down temperature is malevolently toxic. It pierces a hole in the ozone layer so direly that it stirs man to be at loggerheads as to who is to blame: Man or Nature. It is a bane. A worm-bred manna. A burden. Melody, both Paul C and you are privileged to have the "battle royal" pitched its tent in both your consciousness. Will it be a blessing or a burden? It's up to each of you. Let me conjure up a vision. Remember the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus? It's a warning. By not heeding it, the consequence will be infernal. By heeding it, the aftermath will make a difference in our planet. The nut to crack: The poor need the rich to live in this Life. The rich need the poor to live in the Afterlife. The master key is in the latter. And the master key combination is the motivating power of Reward or Punishment. Some rays of hope gleam through the silver lining of the cloud of unknowing hovering over the horizon: Bill Gates pouring out $10 Billion dollars of his own money that will benefit the world's poorest countries. A host of Bill Gates of tomorrow will make our world a better place than what we have today.

Report Abuse

Joe

February 09, 2010  9:24pm

Christianity would be so much purer without the concepts of heaven and hell. Here in the Bible belt, avoiding hell is one of the main reasons to be a Christian. It has nothing to do with Jesus. If worshiping an oak tree would keep you from eternal fire, furniture would be expensive. If hell were removed from the Bible, church attendance would go to hell. I train my dogs with rewards and punishment, what we might call the "preacher" model. Hopefully my human daughter learns to do right for the sake of doing right, not because she thinks I'm watching.

Report Abuse

mmcla

February 09, 2010  5:57pm

Tnam of God He gave to Moses most literally translates "I am He who is eternally present tense". Today, yesterday and tomorrow are all now for God. Once this life is over and we are in the true presence of God we will know, partly, what that means. He is the only being who has eternal presence, always was, always will be. We will never fully comprehend what that means. Basically when I was born, He IS there. When I answered the call, He IS there. When the day comes when I will die, He IS there. I don't fully understand how that is, but He says it, so it is so. We call that faith. Most of the arguments about when we are present with God and what Jesus meant when He told the the thief about being in paradise "today" are based on our understanding of time. Yet Jesus said that before Abraham was He IS. That's why the Jewish leaders wanted to kill him. For Jesus all time is now, today. For us there are yesterdays and tomorrows, but for God there is only now, an eternal now and thus any argument we base on our understanding of time and living is flawed and flawed further by our own sinful nature. Describe hell how you will: fire, absence of God and knowing it, eternal shame, whatever. Just don't say it is not so or you are bending God to your will instead of bending your will to His.

Report Abuse

mmcla

February 09, 2010  5:25pm

What nonsense! Hell was clearly a part of Jewish belief in the Old Testament. One only has to read Daniel, Ezekial, Isaiah among other parts to see that. Jesus refers to a place of great suffering and gnashing of teeth several times as where those who do not follow Him will end up. John wrote the Book of Revelation, didn't he? The Book of Acts is a history of the early church not a dissertation on theology, although some is presented in the speeches of Paul and others as a consequence of recording historical moments. Paul who took the historical teachings of and the others were Jews who took the historical teachings of Judaism for granted. Paul's epistles focused on the new news for the most part. All the epistles focus on how to live life as a follower of Christ. Only Romans and Hebrews delve deeply into the historical basis for coming of Christ and following Him. Not every epistle discusses exactly the same thing. to use absence in certain books as support for argument is specious. Paul focused on the positive of going for the goal of a heavenly reward. He infers a worse circumstance for those who do not, but does not specify what that worst circumstance might be for the most part. Annihilation is not a worse circumstance. It is no circumstance at all. that was Piper's primary point for those who cared to listen, context or not. I see a lot of prejudgement and prejudicial argument, but no open minded discussion here. I do see a lot of arrogance. Making rules for God. Such nonsense!

Report Abuse

Mark

February 09, 2010  12:33pm

You all do realize that Piper is a student of the guy who wrote: "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" Whose most magnificent crucendo in the sermon is "after spending countless year upon year, age upon age, millenia upon millenia in suffering, you will look at what you just suffered and realize that it was just a dot compared to the endless agony that lies ahead of you." (JE paraphrased). Piper is being a loyal disciple of Jon Edwards.

Report Abuse