1. Scriptural arguments for and against three views of hell make up the bulk of Steve Gregg’s “All You Want to Know About Hell.” Before that, Gregg spends several chapters explaining how words about hell are translated from Greek and Hebrew to English, contextualizing specific phrases and parables, and discussing a timeline for when commonly held views of hell arose. The appendix has a chart summarizing arguments for an against each view of hell—very helpful.
2. The three concepts of hell are: a.) Traditionalism—eternal, lasting, separation from God for anyone not reconciled with God through Christ during life, b.) Conditionalism—people who reject Christ during life will be punished according to their works, then put out of their misery (also called Annihilationism), c.) Restorationalism—(also called Evangelical Universalism) at some point, even if it takes eons, every single person will repent of their rebellion against God and be reconciled to him through Christ (allowing for repentance after death).
3. The author states clearly in the beginning that our opinion of what God will do ultimately doesn’t matter, because we will all die, and we will all find out. Gregg’s opinion is that it would be nice if God’s love and mercy covered all the people ever, but he’s not convinced from scripture, but he’s not convinced it’s not totally out of the question, so here’s all his research, neatly laid out. He finds it important to consider what the Bible says about it, because what you believe about hell says a lot about how you see God’s character.
4. Chapter six says that early church founders openly varied in their beliefs about hell. The traditionally held belief of hell became traditional after Augustine strongly supported it around A.D. 500. At the same time, he respected views of other early Christians with different beliefs, like Origen of Alexandria in the second century, a restorationalist.
5. The most interesting concept I was introduced to: it’s not about us. It’s not even about hell. The Kingdom of Heaven is not about where we go when we die, but is about doing God’s will on Earth and reclaiming what is rightfully God’s: people. Gregg says, “The tragedy of an eternal hell is not man’s loss, but God’s” (pg 297).
6. I requested a (free!) review copy of this book for balance after reading a bunch of (borrowed or paid for) books about heaven: Randy Alcorn’s “Heaven,” Don Piper’s “90 Minutes in Heaven,” that kid’s “Heaven is for Real,” and a couple of Randy Alcorn’s novels (as Christian novels go, his are absolutely #1).
7. I’m a fast reader, but this book took me two months to get through. I’d read a few pages, stop to think about it, fall asleep. Repeat. Not a quick read, lots to think about. Also, “All You Want to Know About Hell” would be an interesting blog or novel title.
8. I read the whole book and did not find any part out of line with scripture. I like learning what the Bible says, what it means. So reading biblical history, learning Greek root words, exploring early concepts of hell, and reading a lot of scripture about an interesting subject is time well spent for me. Someone borrow and read this book so we can talk about it. The Bible doesn’t tell me what God will do, but it tells me who he is, and I trust him. We’ll all find out one way or another.
|Here’s some PARADISE to balance out all this talk of hell.|