Hell is talked about cautiously, if at all, in mainline churches. Yet the notion of a divinely ordained place of punishment for the wicked after death is deeply embedded in the Christian imagination. How should we think and talk about hell? Why don’t we talk about it? We asked eight theologians to comment.
The doctrine of universal salvation, often simply taken for granted, is being defended afresh on biblical as well as philosophical grounds. This very defense is a testament to the importance of taking hell seriously, and shows a clear recognition that universal salvation cannot be casually assumed as a matter of course for anyone who respects the authority of scripture and the tradition of the church. At the same time, the doctrine of conditional immortality, as an alternative to the traditional doctrine of hell, has gained a number of defenders, particularly on biblical grounds.
Paul J. Griffiths, whose books include Christianity Through Non-Christian Eyes; Lying: An Augustinian Theology of Duplicity and Intellectual Appetite: A Theological Grammar, teaches at Duke Divinity School.