Four Views on Hell,edited by William Crockett (Zondervan, 190 pp.; $10.99, paper);The Other Side of the Good News,by Larry Dixon (Victor/Bridgepoint, 216 pp.; $12.99, paper). Reviewed by Stanley J. Grenz, the author of The Millennial Maze (InterVarsity) and coauthor with Roger Olson of 20th-Century Theology (InterVarsity).
Hell has become a popular topic these days, even garnering a cover story in U.S. News & World Report. As evangelical thinkers once again turn their attention to the doctrine of perdition, they are finding they no longer speak with one voice. Some question the traditional concept of an endless conscious suffering of the damned in the fires of hell. This lack of unanimity lies behind the publication of these two volumes.
As the title itself indicates, Four Views on Hell is another installment of the multiple authors/multiple positions genre of books pioneered in the 1980s by InterVarsity, but more recently continued by Zondervan. Following the typical model, each of the contributors lays out his own view, to which the other three provide a short response.
This latest offering brings together three evangelicals and a Catholic. Former Dallas Theological Seminary president John Walvoord defends the “literal” position: Hell is a place of fire and brimstone. Alliance Seminary’s William Crockett argues for a “metaphorical” understanding: While the rebellious will be cast from the presence of God, the biblical imagery of hell as a place of physical torment must not be interpreted as a literal description of that separation. Zachary Hayes, who teaches at the Catholic Theological Union, propounds the traditional Catholic doctrine of purgatory. Finally, Clark Pinnock of McMaster Divinity College prefers the “conditional” ...1
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