Hellfire preaching

Gordo’s got a discussion beginning to grow regarding whether or not there is merit for an increase in preaching on hell, judgement and wrath. Personally I think that the general emphasis in contemporary preaching does neglect the doctrines of sin, judgement and hell somewhat, but not to a degree that there’s an all-encompassing and unhealthy emphasis on the “fluffy” attributes of God.

Regarding the thought that preaching on hell scares people into Heaven – that would be true if there was no pointing to the grace that ultimately enables people to be saved. You look at the Old Testament and where there is an act of judgement performed by God, there is an act of grace to accompany or closely follow it (for example, the flood and the saving of Noah and his family).

Ultimately, the atoning sacrifice of Jesus is an act both of judgement and of grace. If a preacher was to not point to Jesus and the grace of God in his death, and instead focus entirely on Hell as the chief eternal consequence of unrepentant sin, then the response of the hearer will not be a genuine act of repentance and gratitude for the propitiation of God’s wrath onto Jesus, but a safety net into which the terrified cast themselves simply to save themselves from a perceived pain and suffering. It needs to be a careful balance of both doctrines.

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