Hell Is Not Separation from God

Michael Horton: Irresponsible speculation about hell has made discussing the doctrine considerably more difficult over the years. Whether it is vivid descriptions of Dante’s Inferno or revivalist “hellfire and brimstone” sermons, the impression is too often given that we must go beyond biblical description to alert people to avoid such a dreadful place. The problem here is that hell, rather than God, becomes the object of fear. But consider Jesus’s sober warning: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt. 10:28) Hell is not horrible due to alleged implements of torture or its temperature. (After all, it is described variously in Scripture as “outer darkness” and a “lake of fire.”) Whatever the exact nature of this everlasting judgment, it is horrible ultimately for one reason only: God is present. Presence of God This sounds strange to those of us familiar with the definition

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