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Author Topic: Q& A: Will Graham on Preaching Hell  (Read 677 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 09, 2011, 12:59:19 PM »

Evangelist Will Graham (Billy Graham's grandson and Franklin Graham's son) speaks on hell:


Quote
CT: But you have a generation that is not biblically literate and doesn't necessarily respect the authority of the Bible the way society did in the past. And people like Rob Bell are communicating that it hasn't always been clear that Christians believe in the eternality of hell. The fact that CNN, ABC News, and all these other secular outlets reported on it tells me that Bell is tapping into something.

Graham: I can't speak for what Rob Bell talks about, but most people I come across still believe in hell. Now the idea of what hell is, that's changing, but there are a few things we do know that the Bible says. One, that there is a place called hell. Just as heaven is real, so is hell. The whole reason God came to search out man was to save us from hell. The Bible says hell was never created for man. It was created for Satan and his angels that rebelled against God. Since man has decided to rebel against God, they were going to spend eternity in hell totally separate from God.

I was watching Bugs Bunny with my kids—you know, good cartoons, the old ones—and Yosemite Sam went down to hell one time and there was a guy with a pitchfork and horns. We don't know what Satan looks like. As a matter of fact, he's known as Lucifer, the Angel of Light. He's probably something beautiful, so we have a lot of misconceptions about hell, but hell is very much a real place. We know it's a place of utter darkness. It's not going to be one big party like on TV. What I found out, even as a pastor, is that when you preach from God's Word, God will speak through his Word to people and it's always relevant. So even to this generation, I still preach the Bible.

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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2011, 04:37:37 PM »

Good for him... (and probably for many evangelicals.)

I am not knowledgeable enough to speak about the theological implications of what he says or believes in fuller detail (haven't read any books of his or about him), but I personally believe that there is a need to maintain belief in the existence and "threat" of hell, however dichotomous to the all-loving God it might seem.  At least for me personally, there is a need to maintain this.  (And if for me personally, I imagine there to be a lot of other people for whom the belief "personally" should be held.  I am not Orthodox of course, so I can't speak to just myself only and anticipate that all others will be saved, a concept I've read elsewhere on these forums.)

Why the need?  Because I am a lazy, self-absorbed, rather narcissistic person.  (I apologize if anything in that sentence is grammatically incorrect.)  That is me most of the time.  When I said above that I am "not knowledgeable enough", it means in large part that I am very simple-minded, and cannot reach to the heights of contemplation to see things from a pure mind-frame of selfless, disinterested love that only sees the good in other people and none of the bad *without* translating that 'only seeing the good' to myself.  That might be like 'black and white' thinking that gets a lot of flack from intellectual people, and from myself too sometimes (when it is other people doing that sort of thinking, less so when yours truly, unfortunately.)  Anyhow, for the simpler-minded folk (not the general type on this Internet forum it seems) how is one to get the motivation to "strive" for the Kingdom - both in oneself and in others, emanating out - if not, in part, by drawing on the ancient and long-enduring dichotomy between salvation and damnation, Christ and Satan, heaven and hell?  Orthodox prayers (that I love to read) often contain lots of "fear" of condemnation in death and begging for mercy/saving from the Lord.

I apologize, too, if my thoughts here are not suitable to what the quotation lends toward in thread discussion.   A thought of mine is that if "hell" (eternal damnation even) had a place in preaching and exhortation by great Orthodox Fathers and ascetics through most or all centuries down from the 1st until perhaps the middle of the 20th century, why is it now taken for granted that - apparently - the Orthodox Christian ethos has moved away from the dichotomy of 'heaven and hell', so much so that some will lampoon conservative evangelicals (or 'fundamentalist' Orthodox, or Roman Catholics) who presume to preach [the existence of] hell and the fear of such?  (I know that what can certainly be lampooned is the "once saved always saved" concept that many evangelicals seem to have - confess Christ one and need no fear of hell evermore, but aside from that, I'm thinking of a more literal implication of the "Behold the Bridegroom" hymn.)
« Last Edit: April 09, 2011, 04:44:52 PM by Aaron M » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2011, 10:07:47 AM »

We obviously must fear hell (as per Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:5 etc.) and I think the liberalizing tendency to try to rationalize it away has come from former "fire & brimstone" groupings that are now the vanguard of much liberal, secularist, ecumenism of worldly Christianity. Groups like the Puritans etc. have gone from a rigid legalism that formerly minimized God's mercy, diminished  the natural law etc. and devolved into rationalized universalism; both tendencies seem to presuppose the will of God instead of extending proper worship. In Orthodoxy, our priests instruct us as we receive the blessed Eucharist, "with fear of God, and faith and love, draw near" but since the Eucharist was dispensed with, misunderstood or minimized in certain groupings the idea of loving and having the fear of God is severely diminished as a former "sinners in the hands of an angry God" is replaced by some sort of milquetoast whatever.

I do want to say that Pastor Graham is keeping the focus on the seriousness of heaven & hell in focus as towards our salvation given by the cross of Christ. In America, it may be good that our clergy & laity have very careful & informal exchanges with certain evangelicals with the hope that more may come to Orthodoxy but nothing deceitful, contrived, or forced.
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2011, 11:24:27 AM »

Hell is not a popular topic among Christians or most people.  I have a hard time also reconciling Hell with the purity, goodness, mercy, love, and justice of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.  But as he says in Isaiah.. 'My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways says the LORD'.  I think it's good to have the fear of God, and to know the possibility that any one of us could fall from grace and end up in Hell.  However, I think it's important that we remember not to live in terror of it!  For an Orthodox priest once said that 'We do not live in anxiety, we live in hope.'    We still have hope that as long as we're still struggling, picking ourselves back up when we fall into sin..  God will work out the rest of our salvation that we were never able to do on our own.  That is true co-operation with God, that is synergy and it's a beautiful concept!   Smiley
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