Christian BoyLove Forum #66207
The medieval vision of hell that we are all familiar with may prove to be true in the end. I'm not arguing one way or the other. I'm arguing that we should not consider that an irrefutable fact, or the only plausible understanding of what the bible teaches.
One of the foremost New Testament scholars and theologians of our time, N.T. Wright (formerly Bishop of Durham and Canon Theologian of Westminster Abbey), in his book "Surprised by Hope" teaches a view of heaven, hell, and the mission of the church vastly different from the medieval traditions you are supporting. Granted, he does also conclude that ultimate separation from God is indeed possible, but his view of who ends up there is far closer to universalism than the fundamentalist views you seem to be supporting.
I'm not saying he is right. I'm saying that one of the most knowledgeable New Testament scholars of our time, perhaps more well versed in the culture of 1st century Judaism than anyone else alive today, disagrees with your view and bases his disagreements on the scriptures combined with knowledge of history and the scripture's place in it. Which simply goes to show that your view of hell is not the only intelligent, coherent view that someone well versed in scripture can come to.
Those who don't enjoy diving into scholarly theological texts might want to skip "Surprised by Hope" and read Rob Bell's "Love Wins" instead. That reaches a different conclusion from the one N.T. Wright reaches, but it's another great tool to open your mind to other possibilities.