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Is Hell Real?

It seems that hell isn't as hot as it used to be. Since the days of fiery sermons from Puritan preachers like Jonathan Edwards, hell has become "more of a deep funk than a pit of fire." A U.S. News & World Report poll reveals that 64 percent of Americans believe there is a hell, 25 percent say there isn't a hell, and 9 percent don't know. Most respondents think of hell as "an anguished state of existence" or "an unpleasant solitary confinement" rather than as a real place.

Professor Douglas Groothius of Denver Seminary believes many Christians are ashamed of the doctrine of hell. Yet Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, worries about downplaying the reality of hell. He believes that doing this "does irreparable damage to our deepest comforts—our understanding of God's grace and love. . . . To preach the good news, we must preach the bad."…

Can the threat of spending eternity in hell motivate individuals toward faith and virtue? Professor Jerry L. Walls of Asbury Theological Seminary, writing in Christianity Today, believes: "If there is no God, no heaven, no hell, there simply is no persuasive reason to be moral."

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