Is Hell an insurmountable problem? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
It’s not really a shock when an emotional atheist complains about Hell. One expects it really. Normally, I enjoy going through atheist books, but I just found Bradley to be taxing. There was no challenge and it consistently felt like an emotional rant.
It’s not a shock that on a side note, he refers at the start of this chapter to the Middle Ages as the Dark Ages. Most historians know that this was not the case at all. Science was very much on the rise in the Middle Ages.
Also in the chapter, he has a reference to an authority on how many times Hell is mentioned in the New Testament. His source is Dial The Truth Ministries on the internet. It would have been awful for him to, you know, pick up a Lexicon and/or Concordance or actually look at what a real Biblical scholar says.
Also, Bradley still always treats Hell as if it’s a burning inferno and never interacts with what evangelical scholars say about it. I do realize I have friends who hold to conditional immortality and I do not hold to that, but I don’t want to make that an issue here. Someone of that position can choose to respond to Bradley in their own way.
Bradley describes burning someone forever as cruel, to which I can say I don’t hold to that so that is not a problem. He also says that one should not be punished forever for crimes done in a finite time, but the length of time it takes to do an evil says nothing about how evil it was. We just had a school shooting recently that could have been done in a couple of hours. Meanwhile, running a Ponzi scheme for years takes a lot longer. Which one do we think should have the biggest sentence? Both are crimes and evil, but one is a worse evil even if it didn’t take as long.
He also says God would not punish someone for lack of correct belief. This is true. I do not hold that He does. God punishes people for their sins. It’s not as if that if you didn’t believe in Jesus, you are sin-free. Even if one is a skeptic of Christianity, most of us know we have all done wrong things in our life and some things we are ashamed of.
He also says God would not be unforgiving forever, and that is true. However, there is no reason to believe those in Hell would ever truly repent. If someone wants to make that case, let them. I hold that they are constantly in a state of sin and rebellion.
Really, these are all basic objections and most any Christian writing a defense of the doctrine of Hell would address these. Even if Bradley thinks the defenses are weak, he should at least interact with them. I kept wondering if he ever really read anyone who disagreed with him. I am skeptical of that.
Bradley thinks one has lost their logical marbles, (Yes. His words) for thinking God could not create a world that lacked moral evil. However, he gives no justification for this claim. After all, if God is going to create free agents who can choose, then it seems like He has to accept some of them will freely choose evil. Bradley does think the only interpretation of Christianity apparently is also a hyper-Calvinistic one.
He does say “What about Heaven? Isn’t that a place of perfection?” Indeed, and it is also a place we go to after we choose that kind of life. It is the result of choosing God. Even the angels had to make that choice.
Bradley also says that all of this is part of fundamentalist beliefs and he should know. After all, he used to be one of them. I would question the used to be part. Bradley, as far as I am concerned, lived his life a fundamentalist and I pray he did not die one. He just took one for the other side. (And once again as I point out, these guys love to give their personal testimonies.)
I really wish there was more to go on, but there isn’t. Naturally, Bradley doesn’t address my interpretation of the doctrine. This isn’t because I’m so special, but because I think Lewis held to this and it’s my understanding that the Orthodox Church holds to a similar view. Bradley only knows one view and that one, he doesn’t know well.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)