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how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference

Hellbound the Movie

I guess many people will know already that Hellbound the Movie is set for release in the US on September 21st. Kevin Miller asked me last year if I’d do an interview for it, but I was in Dubai and he was in the US, and it never happened. That was a missed opportunity. I’m now back in London, and hopefully I will get a chance to see the film here at some point.

You can probably judge from the trailer which way the polemical wind is blowing, but it looks like we will get a good range of scandalized, soul-searching, indignant, sardonic, high-minded, common-sense, bleeding-heart opinion from across the theological spectrum. Not to mention snide. There’s a nice moment near the beginning of the trailer when Mark Driscoll observes that “sometimes when certain questions get asked it’s by someone who’s a coward who doesn’t have the conviction to declare their answer”—and we see Rob Bell trying to explain something complicated.

I look forward to hearing what people think about the film. The continuing debate over hell is a horrible embarrassment for the modern church and really ought to be resolved. If I’d had the chance, I would have said: Do the exegesis. Or something along those lines. There is no good biblical reason for thinking that God intends to subject people to unending torment after death. That would have been my contribution. As it is, the film will have to bring the church to its senses without me.

Comments

Hi Andrew, yes, very much looking fwd to the film’s release.

When you say “there is no good biblical reason for thinking that God intends to subject people to unending torment after death” it plainly and starkly highlights the heart of this belief, the image of the kind of God who’d do this and the mental and theological gymnastics one has to engage in to convince themselves and others of the rightness of such a view. Of course in response there is always a verse somewhere in the Bible someone can rip out of context and throw at me or you for even suggesting the above (sigh)

I would have said, “The Bible is clear that hell is God’s eternal judgement upon all humans, unless His mercy is apllied to a soul, and this soul believes in Christ, and trusts in the death and resurrection of Jesus.”

I do thank Christ ever day for saving my soul from hell, and from His wrath. And I now love Christ and His Father for saving me, and making me new in Him.

1st Corinthians 5:17

Oops! That’s 2nd Corinthians 5:17.

I think it’s good the movie is adding to the discussion because it is an issue whose time has come. I’m about half way though Andrew’s book on hell right now, and his historical judgement perspective generally rings true to me. I suspect the movie will take a more emotional approach . One thing I would say Don is I don’t agree that it’s as simple as a plain reading of scripture. At the very least there is a lot of mystery at the edges of this doctrine and the cultural layers of worldview and theological assumptions mean we need to listen with an open mind.

“there is a lot of mystery at the edges of this doctrine”-Mark

I agree. There are truths we can nail down about God’s wrath, and there are deeper things that cause us to dig deeper and ponder in God’s grace. And we can be know if we seek Christ in humility and with bold meekness, He will help us know what we can know, and He will show us that some things are mysteries.

Ahh the ole “Hitler” argument? So… it’s ok to be repulsed, sickened and angered by the temporal torture and extermination of six million Jews by an evil, unjust, and hateful Hitler, yet whole heartily applaud, justify, and support the supposed eternal torture or annihilation of those very same Jews by a good, just, and loving God? Go figure.

“Go figure.”

Actually we are all sinners, and we all need to have God’s mercy.
Hitler was a very wicked man, but in the presence of a holy Lord God, all of us are unholy, and ungodly, and deserve to be judged under His justice, and perfect wrath.

“But God…” Ephesians. 2:4

But that’s just it Don… we DO indeed have God’s mercy, and the more folk realise this and actually believe it so much the better for God’s good world. Whatever “wrath” you think we deserve Jesus already dealt with it – we couldn’t He did.

Andrew,

Thanks for the heads up on this. I was not aware of this movie. Sure hope it gets released on DVD soon as I doubt it will be in theater near me.

“Whatever “wrath” you think we deserve Jesus already dealt with it – we couldn’t He did.”

It’s God perfect wrath that we all deserve. And He will have mercy on who He will.
And we do need to be sharing the truth of God’s mercy with a world under his wrath, and He will bring others into His forgiveness and love, and quicken them from the dead, as He did for me.

At the end of the world, Jesus said he will separate the goats and the sheep.
That day is drawing nearer and nearer. How I do long to be with Jesus my Savior and Lord! And yet, I long for many of my loved ones to embrace the truth and repent of their worldly ways, and cry out to God for mercy.

Lord, please come soon! And Lord please have mercy on sinners, as you did for me. Amen.

Don you are right “He will have mercy on who He will”… the good news [gospel] is that He HAS already had mercy on us all; that was His unilateral work accomplished in Jesus, thus establishing Jesus as Israel’s Messiah and consequently the world’s Lord Acts 2:36. The only difference is you who have been blessed to realise this reality whereas others are less informed… hence the relevant message of God’s grace.

As to the “end of the world” and those being “separated” etc – my understanding is that Jesus’ proclamations around this were pertinent to the ‘end of the world’ as THEY knew it then, i.e., the end of the Mosaic age, that is, “the world” of the old covenant… none other than Jesus’ contemporary generation Ad30-70.

Did Jesus have mercy on Judas the thief and son of perdition? And so, Judas will have many with him who will also experience the wrath of God.

There are children of wrath, and children that god loves, and gave Himself for in Christ. The Father gave Jesus, His Son, so we could be heirs of His kingdom.

I don’t know why He loved me, but He did, and He saved me. I now love Him, which is an honor, because He first loved me.

God also hardens whom He will. Why He didn’t harden me, I’ll never understand.

Jesus took my sin. I am blessed with His righteousness. Those who do not believe will die in their sins, and so be judged accordingly.

This is the truth of Scripture. It’s for the glory of God. Amen.