RLP on hell

I’m not sure how popular or unpopular Real Live Preacher is among my readers, but I usually find his perspective quite refreshing.  He recently did a video series on hell, examining the traditional conservative evangelical view.  He first asked his readers to give him all the verses in the New Testament (he argues the OT has little to nothing to say about hell) that have been used to argue for the existence of hell.  Then he takes them all and lists them, giving brief context, the word used (i.e. Hades, Gehenna), and who the passage says will go to hell.  In  the third video, he gives his take on the issue, based on his study of the NT passages.  And in the fourth and final video, he makes some suggestions.

His conclusion?  1.  Very little specific can be said about hell using scripture; and 2. we spend far too much time sitting around deciding who will go to hell than we do simply loving our neighbours.  He suggests, in a nutshell, that we should stop thinking about hell and whether or not our neighbour will go there and just be a loving neighbour.

There are 4 videos in the series: Part 1 (introduction/set up), Part 2 (the cold facts of the NT—the verses listed), Part 3 (RLP’s conclusions) and Part 4 (some further thoughts).  I recommend it, even if in the end you disagree with it.  (Each video is around 8 minutes long or less.)

8 thoughts on “RLP on hell

  1. Scott

    It is interesting about hell, is it not? There is so little in the bible yet so much is made of it in doctrine… It would be interesting to find out where/when the idea of scaring people into belief came from…

  2. Phil L

    I hear references to “fire and brimstone” preachers so I’m sure they are out there, but I don’t recall hearing a disproportionate number of sermons on hell at any of the evangelical churches I’ve attended.

  3. Toni

    RLP has done rather badly in the way he’s been represented here in the past, but that’s not a site I follow. Maybe this time will be different.

    Hell fire must be a really big deal across the pond, for it to be such a contentious issue. I’d largely agree with the points made that there is little in scripture to nail stuff down in detail (way too much to ignore) and that it’s much more important to show our neighbours the love of Jesus that to say how nice they’ll look on the barbecue.

    I’d be interested in an academic discussion about hell, the origins of the idea and where Jesus and John’s words fit in. What I don’t want is taking up a position (the traditional conservative evangelical view) and then break or defend it. I also think I see why we get at odds with each other.

  4. Simon

    As you may be able to guess, he’s pretty big with me. I’ve been a paying subscriber to his site for well over a year, and I’ve been following him religiously for several. (Good pun, huh?!)

    I too find his take on religion rather refreshing in that what opinions he has have been formed through dedicated study and introspection, yet they are always tempered by a stubborn refusal to take gospel as, well, gospel. There is no doctrine so unquestionably true that it cannot be misinterpreted and bent the wrong way.

    These videos were just more reinforcement for me — this is why I read him.

  5. Marc Vandersluys

    Phil & Toni: I suspect it’s different for us in Canada and the UK. Keep in mind that RLP grew up within the Baptist denomination in the southern U.S. (though not necessarily Southern Baptist?). He’s also responding, I think, to popular belief *about* the evangelical view. And the TV preachers do often seem to return to the theme of hell.

    And, quite frankly, the response I often get here to posts thinking about hell suggests that even if it doesn’t come up that often in sermons or conversation, people have very strong views about hell (and often precisely the view which RLP is examining). So it still bears examination.

  6. Andrew

    Good points from RLP. Hell is one topic that shows evangelicals follow tradition as much as anyone, rather than their loudly proclaimed ‘sola scriptura’.

  7. real live preacher

    Thanks for dropping by everyone. (I guess we all know who checks Technorati now, don’t we?)

    For the record: I did grow up as a Southern Baptist in Texas. The traditional view of hell was all that we knew.

    Now these people taught me to love the scriptures and Christ. I just took them at their word and read the Bible for myself.

    Something has bothered me for many years. It seems that among evangelicals, the traditional view of hell is considered the conservative position for people who “believe the Bible.” To reject hell or soften its severity was said to be liberal, not taking scripture seriously.

    This really bothers me. It bothers me that a position which, as Andrew says, it primarily tradition, is somehow said to be the Biblical position.

    I confess that my sole purpose with those videos, apart from enjoying my own study, was to convince my evangelical friends to pull out their Bibles and actually read them. If I caused some serious doubts about what they’ve been taught…good. Good in that they will read the scriptures themselves and struggle with them. As they have always said they should do.

  8. Marc Vandersluys

    What? RLP for real? Cool.

    I noticed a spike in my hit-stats around the time when I posted this and it wasn’t making sense. Now I know why. I think. (I still don’t quite get technorati).

    Thanks for your comment, RLP. That last paragraph says it all. Thanks.

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