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That wasn’t quite the sense in which I meant “does it matter?” to be taken. My point was that it doesn’t make any difference to the meaning of Jesus’ words whether rubbish fires burned in the Valley of Hinnom. Sorry for the ambiguity.

Nevertheless, it’s a valid question.

I’m not sure about Bell. What I would say is that we need a doctrine of the radical contrast between the old creation, the end of which is decay, destruction, and death, and the new creation, the end of which is, well, new creation, the remaking of the cosmos.

I certainly do not think that we need a doctrine of hell in order to preach salvation; and I would argue that any doctrine of salvation ought to be preceded in any case by a doctrine of election, if we could find a good way of articulating it. This is going to sound a bit clumsy, but I would say that people do not need to fear hell in order to be saved; they need to be called in order to be “saved”.

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