Friday, March 04, 2011

Greg Boyd on Eternal Judgment

Pastor and theologian Greg Boyd looks carefully at the verses used to justify the traditional view of hell (a place of eternal torment, where the worm never dies, etc.), and talks about how he envisions the Final Judgment.

Some, unfortunately, have already written off Boyd for some of his non-traditional views (Open Theism, which is not a view that I share. Nor, really, care to look into at this moment). But, first, we should take truth wherever we find it. All truth is God's truth. Second, however, and this is kind of central to my point, just because it's not traditional doesn't mean it isn't true, or that the person who brought up the non-traditional point-of-view is a false prophet and worthy of... well, hell.
A return ticket to Hellphoto © 2005 Aslak Raanes | more info (via: Wylio)
So please, take away about forty-five minutes and give it a good listen before dismissing it. Because, as I've come to learn, questions are good. And God is bigger than our questions.


  1. Curt Audet11:21 PM

    I listened to Greg Boyd's whole message with careful observation, and Bible and mind open to consider it.

    I understand Boyd's struggle with the concept of an everlasting, unquenching, burning Hell. As I consider the heavy subject, I find it difficult to wrap my mind around it. I count myself as one who has wrestled with tears over the truth of Hell, and my loved ones who do not know Christ.

    His treatment of Luke 16, however, appears to strip all unpleasantry away. Neither the text nor the context indicates this is a parable. Yes, there are the parables in chapters 13-16, all the way to the parable of the dishonest manager. Each is identified as a parable either by saying, "Jesus spoke a parable" or else giving a summary moral of the parable.

    Yet in verses 14-18, Jesus challenges the arrogant mockery of the Pharisees who loved money and missed the point of the previous parable. So then Jesus proceeds to first point out their double standards shown in adultery, and then he sobers the mood with the chilling story of the two men in verses 19-29. No introduction of a "parable" is given, and even the specific name of some of the characters are given (Lazarus and Abraham), as well as other specifics like the number of the rich man's brothers and the fact that the rich man and Lazarus lived in close proximity of one another during their lives. Jesus then gives a glimpse into a perspective that startles the heart of the humble, but hardly even budges the proud Pharisees. A wicked, proud, rich, arrogant man, unnamed, but very much like the Pharisees, dies and is confronted with the misery of flames. Conscious enough to think of his family and friends who shared his godless arrogance, and seeing the stark reality of things now, he calls for Lazarus to go back from this place, back to life, to warn them of this impending judgement. And with ironic prophecy, Abraham explains that even if someone were to rise from the dead and tell the story, the arrogant, prideful people still may not listen to the message.

    Nowhere does Jesus indicate that this account is fanciful. It lays within the pages of Luke 16 with terrible bluntness, reality as described from one among no one else, who could provide this image.

    Further, another very uncomfortable truth found in Romans 9 reveals that some people have the purpose of being "vessels of wrath" in order to more highly magnify God's mercy to others. Of course, the example--again a real story and not a parable--is of Pharoah. "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." (v.17). This, I confess, is a most troubling Scriptural truth to absorb and accept. But a truth, nonetheless.

    Whether the "destruction" referred to here in Romans 9 is annihilation of the wicked, I cannot be certain, though from other texts of Scripture like Matthew 25:46, 2 Thessalonian 1:9 and Hebrews 6:2, which Boyd quotes at the outset of his message, place destruction and "ever-lasting" together as well as eternal "suffering" and punishment. Can one be eternally suffering and be annihilated?

    If this matter was up to me, I'd side with Boyd for sure. Annihilation of the unredeemed seems best to me since I cannot bear the possibility of hell for all time. But we are followers of Christ, and students of God's Word. While I appreciate Boyd's "authentic" questions, the matter seems painfully simple and clear in the Word. My take-away? Preach the Gospel as if lives depend on it...because they do.

  2. Anonymous3:47 AM

    Just a note about Luke 16. It's the ONLY time Jesus uses the word 'Hades' instead of 'Gehenna', which are both usually translated as Hell in our bibles. A study of Hades and Gehenna produces interesting results and one questions why in this instance Jesus used Hades instead of Gehenna.

    If it's not a parable then you've got some eschatological problems as well, such as why is the guy already in hell when judgement day has clearly not come yet? (Since he asks that someone go back and warn his friends and family etc.). That raises a lot of questions.

  3. I appreciate you giving this matter some serious thought, Curt, my old friend. I can't respond to everything now, but I do have an initial question:

    If the parable is real, then people who are in hell (or in this case, pre-hell?) and talk to those in heaven (the Bosom of Abraham, pre-heaven?). And it may even be possible (though not encouraged) for them to rise from the dead.

    Not exactly real-life scenarios as the rest of scripture suggests, Curt.

  4. I am thankful for people like Boyd who are more interested in truth rather than protecting a core doctrine. Too many Christians want to protect what they think is truth instead of seeking truth. I've just written a book that will be out soon on Hell & eternity and what the Scriptures actually teach on the subject.


Be kind. Rewind.