Four Views on Hell. Edited by William Crockett. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992. 190 pp. Paper, $10.99.
Four Views on Hell discusses the literal, metaphorical, purgatorial, and conditional views of hell. Each view is presented by a proponent and then critiqued by the proponents of the other three views.
John Walvoord defends the literal view of hell and presents relevant word studies on the issues involved in eternal punishment. His presentation of the word eternal was particularly well done. He shows that in the NT aiōnios is only used to mean endless. This word is used several times in reference to the punishment of the wicked.
William Crockett complements John Walvoord, as he has a particularly strong refutation of annihilationism. He points out that the view of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day was one of eternal, conscious punishment. When Jesus spoke of hell this is what would have come to mind in His audience. The early church fathers also held to eternal, conscious punishment. Crockett disagrees with Walvoord on the issue of whether the flames and darkness are literal, contending that they only convey torment, but are not to be taken literally.
Zachary Hayes’s presentation of purgatory is somewhat misplaced, as the rest of the book deals with the nature of hell. It is also misplaced because Hayes clearly holds to works salvation and appeals to tradition and fellow priests to defend his view.
Clark Pinnock presents the annihilationist view, namely that those who do not believe areexterminated in the lake of fire and no longer exist. Eternal destruction would then mean extinction that lasts forever. However, he does not explain the full range of the words used on this subject, nor Rev 14:11 and 20:10 adequately.
Walvoord and Crockett clearly refute the purgatorial and annihilationist views. Together they argue persuasively for eternal, conscious punishment. Walvoord never directly addresses the question of how darkness and flames could co-exist, or how spirit beings could be affected by literal fire. A discussion on midget stars and black holes would have been a helpful analogy from nature of how darkness and flames can co-exist.
This is a valuable book and I recommend it as a resource tool.
R. Michael Duffy