Episode 40: All You Want to Know About Hell, with Steve Gregg

Steve Gregg, host of “The Narrow Path,” joins Rethinking Hell contributor Chris Date to discuss the three views of hell and his new book, All You Want to Know About Hell: Three Christian Views of God’s Final Solution to the Problem of Sin.

Links

  • The website of Steve’s ministry, “The Narrow Path”
  • Steve’s book, available at Amazon
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  • Givemhell

    I understand why someone who believes in a Universal Atonement (that Christ died for every single person as Arminians believe) might find Universalism attractive. It makes sense in a way, if Christ died for every single person than aren’t his sins paid for already? If God were to punish the same sin twice, wouldn’t He be unjust?

    When I was new in the faith I heard a debate between Larry Wessels and an Arminian and not really understanding the issues I almost became convinced of Universalism. I thought that when the man argued for Universal Atonement that he was arguing for Universal Redemeption. I did not understand that there was a distinction in his mind since it made perfect sense to me that for Christ to pay for our sins it meant that the sins were… well… paid for and that a person without sin was a person who would not be punished for sin.

    Thankfully, Universalism fails for the same reason that Arminianism fails. Scripture teaches us something different. Arminianism, as well as Universalism are forced to impose preconceived ideas into the text and that is exactly why the Universal arguments fall apart under scrutiny as they do in this series of radio debates between James White and the Steve Gregg.

    http://www.digitalministries.us/steve_gregg/mp3/topical/calvinism_debate/debate-1.mp3

    http://www.digitalministries.us/steve_gregg/mp3/topical/calvinism_debate/debate-2.mp3

    http://www.digitalministries.us/steve_gregg/mp3/topical/calvinism_debate/debate-3.mp3

    http://www.digitalministries.us/steve_gregg/mp3/topical/calvinism_debate/debate-4.mp3

    http://www.digitalministries.us/steve_gregg/mp3/topical/calvinism_debate/debate-5.mp3

    Do not takes this as disrespect for Steve Gregg. I appreciate anyone who preaches the death burial and resurrection of Christ as long as they also teach and believe the core tenants of the faith. I simply disagree with him on this particular issue. If he were debating James White on the topic of hell he probably wouldn’t need to resort to “yes or no” questions and the debate probably would have went the other way.

    I appreciate Steve Gregg for doing this interview really and I understand that he is still on the fence. Still, this episode was interesting to listen to since I have been having conversations with a Universalist who is a Universalist for similar reasons that Steve expressed for someone being a universalist on this episode.

    The Universalist that I know emphasizes God’s Love and deemphasizes all other descriptions of Him, He believes in a Universal Atonement and doesn’t believe in the innerancy of scripture so that if he doesn’t like a verse he can ignore it. He ends up with an almost Mantichean view, that the God of the old testament who commands He people to slaughter entire people groups is a different (false) God while the God of the new testament who Christ reflects is only Love and would never do those things.

    Ultimately, I end up hearing the same thing from Arminians that I hear from this Universalist, that there is basically a cosmic dualism, specifically, Mitigated Dualism. There is a God of this world, Satan and there is a God of Heaven and they are battling it out for the universe. All of the things that we don’t like become Satan’s fault and all the things that we do like are God’s doing.

    I think that underneath this unbiblical worldview is an attempt to ignore a “problem” (for them) that they can’t escape, that God isn’t made of lollipops. He created the world knowing that evil would exist and He could have created it differently if He had Chosen to do so. If He didn’t know, then He isn’t omniscient and He isn’t God. If He couldn’t have created it differently than He isn’t Omnipotent and He isn’t God. Moreover, sometimes our human morality doesn’t always match with His. He really did command the Israelites to take over the land and deal with the people groups there. He really did command stoning etc. in the Law.

    Ok, ok, this is getting too long lol. You get the point. Have a nice day.

    • Pelipelican

      I can really relate to this comment. I’ve been following Christ since 1987 and consider myself new in the faith, especially as my views have had to change with greater understanding of scripture. In my early years I was confronted with the problem of “If God has paid for all sin then all are saved” the person explaining this said that “as not everyone is saved the atonement must be limited”. I nearly took on the view of limited atonement despite scripture telling me otherwise. After long and enduring study I found that the simple answer was a failure to understand the Atonement. If we have a substitutionary atonement with a substituted individual then also a substituted penalty.

      If I commit a crime and the penalty is a £100 fine. The law demands £100. If the fine is paid it doesn’t matter who pays it, I must go free. But if someone offers to work for the community for example – provide surgical (the substitute is a surgeon) work for a month for the local authority (the value of which would far exceed my fine) the judge would be able to take this and remain just. Because its not the literal fine the judge can impose conditions (for example my personal televised repentance). If I don’t meet the conditions the work done by the surgeon means nothing and I remain liable.

      This is the biblical understanding of the Atonement. Christ offered a sacrifice far greater in value than the death of all mankind, the earth and universe. The Father has set conditions on this substitution without which the transaction is not effective.
      A misunderstood Atonement leads to all manner of confusion. Jesus “tasted” death for all but that doesn’t save all without the conditions of Faith and Repentance.

      • Givemhell

        No.

        I don’t feel like going through all the arguments again. The truth is easily accessible nowadays and I don’t see a need to repeat it. I even posted several links where you could see how a salvation that is dependent on us and God and not on God alone topples in the face of good biblical exegesis in my previous comments.

        Here are some more resources. I hope that they help.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DepxyWF8euA
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEJY1rGYHss
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akMN-xUIC5g
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKJgC1_6NN0

        and here’s another debate on limited atonement where once again limited atonement is show to be true and synergism is show to be a misunderstanding of scripture.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q61K6ZITck4

        • The Remonstrant

          It is unfortunate to observe the eschatological dialogue that is “Rethinking Hell” devolve into “Rethinking the Doctrines of Salvation” (i.e., the Calvinist-Arminian soteriological debate). While I personally have a strong opinion regarding the scope of atonment (my username should serve as a tip-off), I honestly do not see how or why debating the extent of atonement is even necessary on this site. Whether you are an annihilationist or not, it has little bearing on one’s soteriology. (E.g., I was an Arminian before I came to understand the fate of the wicked in terms of final annihilation.)

          GEH, if I may be permitted to speak bluntly, your understanding of Arminianism is either (a) extremely poor or (b) simply uncharitable, or perhaps both. Arminians understand God to be completely sovereign as Lord over creation (unless, of course, sovereignty is to be exclusively [and arbitrarily] understood as God exhaustively determining all things) and all-knowing. We do not believe God and Satan are duking it out to see who will finally get the upper hand. There is no one who will usurp God’s power. Salvation history is a testament to God’s goodness, wisdom and his power to enact his plan to redeem his creation. Classical Arminians are not disciples of Marcion (i.e., ” Manticheans” [sic]) who posit two gods and pick and choose which books we accord divine status in the New Testament (NT). We believe the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek NT to be God-breathed (i.e., Scripture). Jesus, the Word, is the image of God; he reveals to us who God is. It is little wonder, then, why we focus especially on Christ, for he is the revelation of God and salvation comes through faith in him alone. For a succint breakdown of Arminian soteriology (free of Calvinian caricature), see Brian Abasciano’s “The FACTS of Salvation: A Summary of Arminian Theology/the Biblical Doctrines of Grace” on http://evangelicalarminians.org/the-facts-of-salvation-a-summary-of-arminian-theologythe-biblical-doctrines-of-grace/.

          While I am not concerned so much with “converting” you to Arminianism, I do take great exception to your uncharitable characterization of it. If you are going to disagree with a theology at least take it upon yourself to properly understand and represent your oppositions’ beliefs accurately. Thanks.

          Now can we get back to “Rethinking Hell?”

          • Peter Grice

            Indeed. This is not the website to keep pushing that agenda, especially in the ways you mentioned. It is a place for evangelicals (reformed and otherwise) to leave those issues elsewhere—precisely so we can face the already difficult challenges of achieving respectful dialogue on our topic. There are a number of people behind RH, both reformed and non-reformed.

  • Dave

    Arminianism is bad enough…..now we are going to add the nonsense of sympathy for universalsim??? There is nothing evangelical about universalism. There is nothing Christian about universalism. It is an enemy to the Cross and an enemy to the gospel (the good news of how great the Sacrifice of Jesus was and how GREAT a salvation we have). Steve’s Gregg continual sympathy for universalism is sad. His attempts to legitimize universalism by claiming it is a possible view is absurd. It is one thing for him to teach against original sin. It is at least understandable for him to preach against Calvinism. With these we can be charitable. When he proclaims “evangelical universalism” to be a viable theology he crosses a line. When is the church of Jesus going to wake up to these attacks against the gospel??? It is this ONE area of his theology that makes him a false teacher (when it comes to salvation after death). Let’s see him be forthcoming to all of the churches he speaks at about how he thinks UR or CU is legitimate and see how many bible believing churches allow him to teach at their churches. He crosses a line with his lack of understanding on why it has to be particularism and he reminds me of Harold Camping back in the 70′s before he (Camping) started making even worse choices. God often judges us through our own deception. I hope Steve Gregg will repent and come back to the true gospel. I know that many pray for this.

    • Steve Gregg

      Dave,

      Steve Gregg here. I am surprised to hear that the message of universal redemption would somehow compromise what you call the gospel. Help me with this…what are the elements of the gospel that you think to be compromised by this concept—and where do you find them included in the gospel preaching in scripture?

      You wrote:

      “Let’s see [Steve Gregg] be forthcoming to all of the churches he speaks at about how he thinks UR or CU is legitimate and see how many bible believing churches allow him to teach at their churches.”

      Also, how much more forthcoming can I be than to write a book about these things? My sympathies are broadcast on Christian stations across the country. Is there something more you are hoping for me to do that would make me more “forthcoming”?

      It is true that most of the churches I speak in are not Reformed (though some of them have been). The ones that invite me are either aware of my views, or have not listened to me when I have openly espoused them.

      If you have listened to my views, then you know that I am not a universalist. However, since a very large number in the early church either held or had no objection to the universalism of Origen, it seems very pontifical for any modern commentator to declare that such views cannot be consistent with Christian faith.

      Perhaps you can list the essentials of the gospel (as you believe it was preached by Christ and the apostles) so that we can see which of them rules-out a belief that Christ may save all.

      • Doug Ribot

        Anyone who reads the Bible or part of it can see that not everyone is saved. I think it’s weird it ever became an issue.

  • Brad

    I’m guessing that most of the people who have left comments here have not read “Justice” in George MacDonald’s “Unspoken Sermons.”

    C.S. Lewis highly recommended that book, and I think he was right to do so.

    • Steve Gregg

      Dave,

      Steve Gregg here. I am surprised to hear that the message of universal redemption would somehow compromise what you call the gospel. Help me with this…what are the elements of the gospel that you think to be compromised by this concept—and where do you find them included in the gospel preaching in scripture?

      You wrote:

      “Let’s see [Steve Gregg] be forthcoming to all of the churches he speaks at about how he thinks UR or CU is legitimate and see how many bible believing churches allow him to teach at their churches.”

      Also, how much more forthcoming can I be than to write a book about these things? My sympathies are broadcast on Christian stations across the country. Is there something more you are hoping for me to do that would make me more “forthcoming”?

      It is true that most of the churches I speak in are not Reformed (though some of them have been). The ones that invite me are either aware of my views, or have not listened to me when I have openly espoused them.

      If you have listened to my views, then you know that I am not a universalist. However, since a very large number in the early church either held or had no objection to the universalism of Origen, it seems very pontifical for any modern commentator to declare that such views cannot be inconsistent with Christian faith.

      Perhaps you can list the essentials of the gospel (as you believe it was preached by Christ and the apostles) so that we can see which of them rules-out a belief that Christ may save all.

      • Steve Gregg

        Sorry for the duplication of this post. I don’t do internet chats much, and don’t know what I am doing half the time.

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