Wednesday, April 29, 2009

David Sunday: Sermons on Hell

Preaching on hell is neither popular nor easy. Our church recently began a series on Heaven and Hell (for which we are inviting friends and neighbors), and I am thankful to God for the two recent sermons on the horrible (but true and just) doctrine of hell:
I'm reminded of Dorothy Sayers's insightful point about the unpopularity of teaching on something that Jesus taught about often:
[T]here seems to be a kind of conspiracy, especially among middle-aged writers of vaguely liberal tendency, to forget, or to conceal, where the doctrine of Hell comes from. One finds frequent references to the 'cruel and abominable medieval doctrine of Hell' or 'the childish and grotesque medieval imagery of physical fire and worms . . . '

But the case is quite otherwise; let us face the facts. The doctrine of Hell is not ‘medieval’: it is Christ’s. It is not a device of ‘medieval priestcraft’ for frightening people into giving money to the church: it is Christ’s deliberate judgment on sin. The imagery of the undying worm and the unquenchable fire derives, not from ‘medieval superstition,’ but originally from the Prophet Isaiah, and it was Christ who emphatically used it. . . . [O]ne cannot get rid of it without tearing the New Testament to tatters. We cannot repudiate Hell without altogether repudiating Christ.