The photographs and images are now seared into our consciousness. One of the most troubling aspects of the disaster in South Asia is the death of infants and young children. Moving at the speed of a jetliner, the walls of water fell on the young and the old alike–and so many of the youngest were simply swept away.
The doctrine of hell has recently come under vicious attack, both from secularists and even from some evangelicals. In many ways, the assault has been a covert one. Like a slowly encroaching tide, a whole complex of inter-related cultural, theological, and philosophical changes have conspired to undermine the traditional understanding of hell. Yesterday, we considered the first and perhaps most important of those changes–a radically altered view of God. But other issues have played a part as well.
After reviewing the rise of the modern age, the Italian literary critic Piero Camporesi commented, “We can now confirm that hell is finished, that the great theatre of torments is closed for an indeterminate period, and that after 2000 years of horrifying performances the play will not be repeated. The long triumphal season has come to an end.” Like a play with a good run, the curtain has finally come down, and for millions around the world, the biblical doctrine of hell is but a distant memory. For so many persons in this postmodern world, the biblical doctrine of hell has become simply unthinkable.
We must speak the truth in love and seek to be good neighbors to all, but we cannot abandon the faith just because we are told that we are now on the wrong side of history.
Families across the Christian world are gathering for Christmas even now, with caravans of cars and planeloads of passengers headed to hearth and home. Christmas…