Greg Boyd Goes to Hell, but not really

Interesting ‘thoughts’ from Gregory Boyd…

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Post By Joel Watts (10,077 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

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17 thoughts on Greg Boyd Goes to Hell, but not really

  1. I guess this is a natural extension of Boyd's “open theism,” a sadly diminished view of an impotent god. There's not enough time or space in the comments box to even beging to discuss his flawed hermeneutics. Also, it's irresponsible of Boyd to play to “itching ears” that don't want to hear about hell. The theology of hell came right out of Jesus' mouth; the reality of hell is what we should worry about.

  2. uh huh.. not.. I have spent the last 15 years defending “the faith” against boyds open theist crowd… places like http://www.theologyonline.com which is run by open theist, hyper dispensationals.

    However, I dont disagree with many of his views on hell. So its NOT a natural extension of Open Theism. In fact, the same view is held by many people, right back to the Church Fathers.
    For example, Gen 3 precludes any eternal existence for any person except those in right relationship with God.

    Surely, the exact nature of hell is less important than the fact that it exists? (well apart from the fact that it has an effect on Biblical anthropology and the nature of God, but thats beside the point).

  3. Yeah, I get it. Annihilationism. Too much reality to process. But how do you address Jesus' clear teaching on hell? Why is hell eternal? Because punishment is based on the holiness of the Offended, not the puny human relativism of the offense. Jonathan Edwards makes this point eloquently in many of his sermons. Denying the full doctrine of hell is the theological equivalent of a scared little boy whistling through the graveyard.

  4. Its possible Jonathan Edwards was wrong, you know. No one is perfect.

    As for Jesus clear teaching, its obviously not all that clear if there are at least 2 arguable understandings that can come from it, right?

    I can think of several holes in the “traditional” view (which is not really all that traditional at all..)
    As i pointed out, the biggest one is the view that the “soul” is separable from the body, and has an external existence apart from God. Genesis CLEARLY show this to be untrue. And we also know that the idea that the soul was something “special” and “independent”, and “the real you” is completely alien to the Ancient Hebrew mindset, and was not in fact adopted into Christian belief until a few hundred years after Christ, and THEN only to make Christianity palatable to the Hellenised thinkers.

    So, in reality it is NOT “the theological equivalent of a scared little boy whistling through the graveyard”, in fact, the statement “Denying the full doctrine of hell” just shows that you have not done your research. If Human beings DO NOT have an eternal existence apart from being right with God through Christ, then there can be no “eternal punishing in hell”. And it is clear this is the case.
    Also, note that the word “punishMENT” is used, not “punishING”.

  5. No one is perfect? What kind of argument is that? The correct question to ask is was Edwards right or not. Given the fact that he is considered, even by secular scholars, to be the greatest theologian America ever produced, I'd at least take him seiously.

    And your contention that if there are two (or I assume more) positions means something isn't clear is odd. If one propositional statement is true and all others are false, then the clear position is the correct one. Am I detecting a little dose of postmodern thinking in your arguments? Like all orthodox Christians for the past 2000+ years, I believe in the perspicuity of Scripture. Jesus' teaching on hell was far from ambigous.

    As to the warmed-over 19th Century German notion that somehow Christianity was profoundly “Hellenized,” there's plenty of credible scholarship to put that fiction to rest (see Richard Bauchum, N. T. Wright, D. A. Carson, etc.)

    But in the end, let Scripture interpret Scripture. Eternal torment is hard to contemplate. But just because it's offensive doesn't mean it isn't true. Without the saving grace of Christ, we're all hell-deserving sinners. We've all sinned and come short of the glory of God. Some convuluted, specious brand of wishful thinking won't change the doctrine of hell or the destination of sinners headed there.

  6. No one is perfect, in that no matter how good, and how respected they are, and how much they are “right” about.. they can still be wrong, and in this case, Edwards is miles off base.

    If two or more positions are defensible and none have major weak points, then whether something is “taught clearly” is arguable. If “a” is traditional, but it can also be argued that b, c, and d are also logical, rational, and sensible understandings of the same thing, then it is not “taught clearly”. Its just a “view” or an “opinion” to the “best of your understanding”.

    I HAVE seen Wright and Carson et all (and even met some of them in real life), and your statement is patently false, and certainly not one that Wright and Carson would subscribe to. Church history shows differently.. I dont really see how anyone could conclude any differently.

    I dont reject eternal torment, in fact, I hold to a TRUE understanding of what it is. I reject the traditional understanding of hell, because it presupposes something that the Scriptures do not teach. The nature of humanity, and what happened in the fall inform us how we are to understand these things in the rest of Scripture, not vice versa. If you want to let Scripture interpret Scripture (lol, as if this was all thats required), then do it properly.

  7. Geoff, I tend to stay out of this one, for the most part, but knowing – I think – SSR's foundation for interpretation, would you mind sharing with me – because this subject interests me – how you interpret Scripture, or rather, what tools you use?

    I try to stick with the original languages and context (cultural and social, etc… of the authors and audiences) and then follow it through with later interpreters.

  8. I cant reply directly to you for some reason Polycarp.

    I use the basic tools I was taught at Seminary (Bible College).

    My rejection of the traditional view of hell comes because of my exegetical work in Genesis, primarily because I happened to be doing “Genesis” papers, followed by theology papers, one of which was “the nature of hell”. That led me to look more deeply into it. I am by no means an expert though.

    So, the answer is pretty much the same as yours. With the addendum that I had to demonstrate to a professor that I could actually do a reasonable job of it (as many people have).

  9. “Patently false”? It irritates me to be called a liar. Read this passage and then read Don Carson's comments on it:

    Revelation 16: 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory.

    10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed m the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

    From Vol. 1 of D.A. Carson's “For the Love of God”

    “In some ways, the terrible words of 16:9, 11 explain something of hell itself. Hell is not filled with people who have learned their lesson. It is filled with people who still refuse to repent. Like those who suffer from these plagues, they suffer and curse God because of their suffering, but they refuse to repent of what they have done. This is what hell is like: an ongoing cycle of sin, rebellion, judgement, sine, rebellion, judgement, world without end.” — D. A. Carson

    So are you going to use your postmodern hermeneutic to parse “world without end,” words that came directly from Carson's pen?

    Or let me see you exegete these passages that came straight from the Lord Christ's mouth:

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
    (Matthew 25:41 ESV

    And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.
    (Mark 9:43 ESV)

    [47 ] And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, [48 ] ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’
    (Mark 9:47; Mark 9:48 ESV)

    These passages are clear as crystal. Note words like “eternal” and “unquenchable” and “the fire is not quenched.” Completely unambiguous.

    It may be appealing to you to “shop” doctrine and only pick the items that resonate with your subjective feelings, but in the end, your theology is man-made and, therefore idolatrous.

  10. I didnt call you a liar, or any such thing, I just said your statement was patently false. Way to tangent.

    I agree with Carson.
    I see no problems with any of the verses you quoted. They all refer to the destruction of the wicked. None of them definitively prove an eternal torment..

    I'd love to “exegete” them, but since for you its all so personal, there's no point. Why not go and read Edward Fudge, or even, my friend Dr Peoples writings at http://www.beretta-online.com – they have already convincingly dealt with those passages.

  11. 2 Timothy 4: 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

  12. dont quote random verses at me as though they are meant to mean something.
    If you dont know what you're talking about, just admit it and move on, its a much more honest and humble thing to do.

  13. 2 Peter 2 :1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. [2 ] And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. [3 ] And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
    (2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 2:2-3 ESV)

  14. Polycarp,

    I saw your post on Dr Matt Flannagan's article on the Canaanites before, and just as an addendum, I went to the same school that he, and Dr Glenn Peoples went to. I left after my BA, and they both went on to MA/PHD.
    So, pretty much what they “do”, is also what I was taught. They are also there to keep me honest :P

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