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The Problem of Hell 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0195084870
ISBN-10: 019508487X
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Paperback, September 30, 1993
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Editorial Reviews


"The book, rich in argument and thought-provoking, is highly recommended for all those with an interest in soteriology and eschatology."The Month

"We are offered an impressive case for the coherence of a revised doctrine of hell....I hope...that our readers will grapple with this subtle and widely ranging discussion, which is far richer than my terse summary can reveal."--The Expository Times

"Those who are not squeamish will find much worth thinking about in this tough-minded and toughly-argued book."--Theology

"Kvanvig's own theory deserves careful consideration....If a philosophical analysis is called for, this is the book to read. It brings us a long way into an intelligent, scripturally respectful, and theologically acceptable discussion of a belief that has traditionally been a forest of contradictions. Kvanvig's book may be the best path through the forest yet."--Christianity and Literature

"Kvanvig's solution to the problem of hell in ingenious. It should be of interest to any philosopher who wants to explore alternatives to the morally problematic doctrine of hell in traditional Christianity."--Ethics

About the Author

Jonathan L. Kvanvig is at Texas A and M University.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 30, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019508487X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195084870
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,241,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. Customer on April 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
Although the price is a little high for approximately 175 pages of text, this book warrants a read for anyone curious about the problem of hell. Furthermore, though written predominately from a Christian perspective this book will be useful to any religion which contains a doctrine of hell.

Kvanvig begins with what he calls the "Strong View" of hell. This Strong View contains four different points: (1) Some people are cosigned to hell; (2) Hell is a place where people exist if cosigned there; (3) Once cosigned to hell, one cannot leave; and (4) the justification for hell is retributive in nature. Kvanvig argues that one should not adopt this view for moral reasons. For on the Strong View every person in hell receives the same punishment and that punishment in infinite in nature. This seems to be unfair (not everyone is equally guilty) and unjust (no sin, if any, deserves infinite punishment). Kvanvig also thinks that the Strong View suffers from being arbitrary. Why did God choose this type of punishment out of all the open ones to him? Why must hell be "constructed" this way?

After objection to the Strong View, Kvanvig moves on to what he calls "simple solutions" which simply deny one of the four aforementioned points. He then critiques annihilation views of hell and "second chance theories" of hell. He spills much ink over attempting to show the universalism position is also faulty. Though I think his argument fails against universalism because I do not agree with his version of possible world actualization.

Eventually, Kvanvig presents his finally critique of the Strong View of hell and the simple solutions--it focuses upon God's justice instead of his love. According to Kvanvig the primary characteristic of God's nature is his love.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Monton on May 12, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an impressive book on the nature of hell. Kvanvig argues that a strong retributivist view of hell is false, and argues instead for an issuant conception of hell, where hell exists because of God's love for us. Kvanvig's basic view is that God values our freedom, and while God could force those who reject God to be in heaven, God would have to violate their freedom to do so. Instead, hell exists for those whose characters are such that they've chosen not to be with God.

Kvanvig is a Christian, and while he sometimes discusses hell from a Christian perspective in the book, he's careful to give a more general discussion that applies to non-Christian theologies as well. The book is well-written and carefully argued; it's really an intellectual delight to read.
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