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Preaching Hell in a Tolerant Age

Brimstone for the broad-minded

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The young man in my office was impeccably dressed and articulate. He was an Ivy League MBA, successful in the financial world, and had lived in three countries before age 30. Raised in a family with only the loosest connections to a mainline church, he had little understanding of Christianity.

I was therefore gratified to learn of his intense spiritual interest, recently piqued as he attended our church. He said he was ready to embrace the gospel. But there was a final obstacle.

"You've said that if we do not believe in Christ," he said, "we are lost and condemned. I'm sorry, I just cannot buy that. I work with some fine people who are Muslim, Jewish, or agnostic. I cannot believe they are going to hell just because they don't believe in Jesus. In fact, I cannot reconcile the very idea of hell with a loving God—even if he is holy, too."

This young man expressed what may be the main objection contemporary secular people make to the Christian message. (A close second, in my experience, ...

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Johnson Bowie

April 09, 2011  2:08am

Great article. As one preaching to many post moderns on a weekly basis, I know the struggle of reconciling a loving God with a burning Hell. But, like you say, it's so important. The approach of showing them that Jesus went through Hell so they wouldn't have to is huge. Thank you for writing this article, especially in a time when so many teachers are "tickling the ears" of the masses with the idea of a God who says, "Ahhhhh, it's all right. Come on in!" True love sacrifices. And true love has to be received individually.

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Kim Reid

November 11, 2009  3:29pm

I appreciate Tim Keller's ability to make sense of this scripture and topic. His approach is clear and makes a lot of sense. Many in my community wrestle with this issue. This was very helpful. Thank you.

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