Second Coming, Part VIII: That Won’t Preach

Part I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X | XI | XII | XIII

I’ll be on vacation and offline for the next six days.

While I’m gone – if you’re not bored to death by this series and are still tracking with it – consider some reasons why the “hellfire & damnation” approach to gospel preaching was popular 100, 200 years ago (and is still rampant in some circles today):

  • Immediate results, validation for the preacher
  • No depth of study required
  • Prospect of falling out of grace brought parishoners back for a moral recharge

You can think of more.

It’s hard to preach, “I don’t know what to make of this. I’ve studied it out. The Bible doesn’t talk about Christians going to heaven, after all. God comes down from heaven to join us on a new earth. Punishment is eternal, but I’m not clear about whether it is ongoing torment or obliteration.”

If you’re an “h & d”-type preacher, all you’re left with is to turn red in the face, bug your eyes out, pound on the pulpit and shout: “So as near as I can tell, we believers will all go to DISNEY WORLD! And the rest of you sorry sinners WILL SPEND ETERNITY IN CLEVELAND!”

Part I | II | III | IV | V | VI | VII | VIII | IX | X | XI | XII | XIII

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4 thoughts on “Second Coming, Part VIII: That Won’t Preach

  1. There is a place for Hell in our sermons and theology, but thank goodness most of those “Hell, Fire and Brimstone” sermons are of a past era. I did my impression of Carl Lewis during the first words of the invitation song when I was baptized the first time at the ripe old age of 9. A well known evangelist had just delivered his famous “What is Hell Like” sermon. I for sure was running AWAY from something, and certainly not running TOWARDS anything.Being scared of Hell is a motivation, just not a very deep one. Thanks for the reminder!Have a great time off, brother!DU

  2. Another truism of our history is shown to be a non-truism by studies like these, Keith. I can remember being told that the Bible was simple enough for the average person to just pick it up, read it, and come to the same conclusions our church had always reached. The older I get, the less truth there is in that old chestnut. We need to be humble enough sometimes to respond to questions with a shrug. Of all the sins I need forgiven, the arrogance that fed my judgmentalism is the first thing I need blotted out.

  3. To david u — You probably know that the “H&B” preacher you reference says in his recent autobiography that he hasn’t preached that sermon for 25 years now because he is no longer sure that all the lost will suffer unending conscious torment.

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