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Four Views on Hell (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology) and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
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Four Views on Hell Paperback – December 24, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

What do the Scriptures say hell is? John Walvoord argues that it is a literal place of smoke and flames. William Crockett defends a metaphorical view, punishment but not necessarily literal fire. Clark Pinnock presents conditional immortality - punishment but not forever. And Zachary Hayes explains the concept of purgatory.

From the Back Cover

Most contemporary Christians acknowledge the doctrine of hell, but they’d rather not think about how God punishes the wicked. The authors of Four Views on Hell meet this subject head-on with different views on what the Scriptures say.

Is hell to be understood literally as a place of eternal smoke and flames? Or are such images simply metaphors for a real but different form of punishment? Is there such a thing as "conditional immortality," in which God annihilates the souls of the wicked rather than punishing them endlessly? Is there a Purgatory, and if so, how does it fit into the picture?

The interactive Counterpoints forum allows the reader to see the four views on hell—literal, metaphorical, conditional, and purgatorial—in interaction with each other. Each view in turn is presented, critiqued, and defended. This evenhanded approach is ideal for comparing and contrasting views in order to form a personal conclusion about one of Christianity’s key doctrines.

The Counterpoints series provides a forum for comparison and critique of different views on issues important to Christians. Counterpoints books address two categories: Church Life and Exploring Theology. Complete your library with other books in the Counterpoints series.

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Product Details

  • Series: Counterpoints: Bible and Theology
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (January 6, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310212685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310212683
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William V. Crockett is a writer, scholar, and professor in New York. A graduate of University of Winnipeg, Princeton Theological Seminary, and University of Glasgow (Ph.D.), he has lectured and written extensively on theological issues. With his expertise in classical antiquity, Crockett is making his mark as a novelist. His two novels, Worlds Apart and A Celt in Rome are set in the second century Roman Empire. He lives with his wife, Karen, in rustic Sussex County, New Jersey, where he is hard at work on a modern thriller, The Apocalypse Gene, set at Yale University.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 92 people found the following review helpful By David R. Bess VINE VOICE on March 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book accomplishes its objective of presenting four differing views on hell. Obviously, it consists of four authors submitting defenses of their particular positions. A couple of the writers are more persuasive than their colleagues. This persuasiveness, however, stems more from the positions themselves rather than from the skill of the persons penning them.
Walvoord begins with a simplistic, fundamentalist position of literal, eternal fire. Walvoord does a decent job of making his point. The issue is muddled, unfortunately, with the mantra of literal interpretation as the only method for persons who believe the Bible is inerrant. The connection with dispensationalism is apparent in the frequent, literal application of passages in Revelation.
Crockett steps to the plate next with the metaphorical view. His presentation is the most convincing of the four, partially because of his skill but mainly because of the strength of the argument itself. Crockett sticks to the point and drives it home.
Hayes takes his turn defending the purgatorial position. I was a bit surprised to find a serious consideration given to the idea of purgatory in a work of this nature. Hayes deserves credit for making a valiant attempt to communicate a Catholic belief to a predominantly Protestant audience. He offers little Scriptural support for his position, simply because there is little Scriptural support to be found.
Pinnock concludes the presentations with his view of annihilation. Pinnock is not as convincing as Crockett, but gives some substantial Scriptural evidence and theological reasoning to support his position. Crockett does an excellent job of refuting Pinnock's argument in the brief response he offers.
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Lee Eddy on March 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
I think it was Spurgeon who said one should never preach on hell without tears in one's eyes. Do not be worried - none of these men presenting their views would disagree with that quote. None disavow that there is indeed a hell and that some people will end up there. What they are debating is how to read the biblical texts about hell, it's nature, etc. The book starts with the most traditional view, which it seems to me is the weakest one presented (or the weakest presentation) followed by the metaphorical - which seems so close to the traditional (especially when compared to the last two) as to render the differences nearly useless. Whether or not there are actual flames? Is this a burning question (pun intended ;))? After these two are the most interesting essays. A Catholic writer defends the idea of purgatory (technically not about hell, but about suffering in the afterlife) and makes a fairly good case. To do so, he must address differences that are basic to Catholic and Evangelical soteriology - justification and sanctification. I learned a bit I did not know. Finally, comes Clark Pinnock and the conditional view. Dr. Pinnock takes quite a bit of heat for some of his views including this one. He believes that the biblical data and what we know and believe about God tell us that the unrepentant sinner will not be kept alive merely to experience punishment and torment forever, but will be annihilated - eliminating rebellion from the Kingdom of God. Many tangential issues such as post-death salvation and redemptive suffering are addressed, especially in the last two essays. This volume really opened my eyes and made me dive back into the Bible to see what it had to say. I won't divulge my opinions - but they were different than what they were before I read this book!
A useful reference to different views and a plus for the Counterpoints series.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Peter W. LaNore on August 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
Four Views of Hell is one of the best books available on the subject. Unlike other books on the same topic, the book dares to allow differing voices to be heard. But, this book may tell us even more about the prejudices and preconceptions of those who contributed to it than about the afterlife.
John Walvoord is dogmatic in his "Literal" view that hell is a place of actual flames combining physical pain with mental and emotional depression and misery. I believe that literal is a particularly bad naming and this should have been called the "Traditional" view instead.
William Crockett allows more credence to other views but still suggests that his "Metaphorical" view, hell is a state of mental and emotional depression and misery without physical features, are the only reasonable views.
In the "Purgatorial" view, Zachary Hayes, gives an excellent synopsis of the development of this controversial idea, but the reader is left to wonder whether purgatorial is 'hellish' in the traditional sense or merely cleansing and refreshing. His treatment of the Roman Catholic doctrine is historical, fair, and unapologetic.
Clark Pinnock writes one of the best articles, to date, on the "Conditional" view. This view holds that in the end, most of the unsaved will become saved, and those who persist in rebellion and hold fast to doing evil will enter a state of oblivion and annihilation. Pinnock's article and counterpoints are excellent and by far the least prideful of the lot.
The flaw, not with the book but with the contributors, is that they don't seem to read what the others have written. In their rebuttals they pick and choose their attack points often missing the very solutions to the problems they point out.
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