Book Review: Four Views on Hell, Second Edition, by Preston Sprinkle, general editor

Four Views on HellZondervan updated its Counterpoints series with a second edition of Four Views on Hell with new contributors. All contributors approach their doctrine of hell from a Protestant (non-Catholic and (non-Eastern Orthodox) and evangelical (definitions may vary), believing that hell is an actual place but differing on what they believe happens therein. The book follows the common form of the Counterpoints series: an introduction by the general editors, a major essay on one view followed by relatively shorter essay responses by all other contributors, subsequent essays and responses in the same manner, and a conclusion, again by the editor. Contributions and respective authors include the following:

  • Introduction: Preston Sprinkle
  • Eternal Conscious Torment (often referred to as the “traditionalist view”): Denny Burk
  • Terminal Punishment (the contributor’s preferred terminology for the more commonly known “annihilationism” or “conditional immortality”): John G. Stackhouse, Jr.
  • A Universalist View (a universalist view in that the contributor believes all are saved through Jesus, as opposed to the more widely used and understood definition of “all roads lead to heaven/God”): Robin A. Parry
  • Hell and Purgatory (not in the Roman Catholic sense, and is questionably included given its focus on an in between state of earth and heaven with no focus on hell, which assumes and is in agreement with the perspective of eternal conscious torment above): Jerry L. Walls
  • Conclusion: Preston Sprinkle

Atypical to what I have generally found from editors in the Counterpoints series, Sprinkle offers a fair and generous introduction and critique of each of the contributor’s essays and the book as a whole rather than simply saying something akin to, “Here they are, and they contributed,” nor does he offer his personal thoughts in hopes to sway the reader one way or the other, encouraging the reader to study, reason, and wrestle on his or her own. Though I do not agree that “each provided solid scriptural and theological arguments for his view” (204; Sprinkle is more generous than I), each of the contributions are indicative of a typical representation of each view given the space and time allowed, and in as much contribute to this book’s helpfulness as a helpful survey resource. With that recommendation and Sprinkle’s already helpful responses included in the text, I find it unnecessary for me to respond to each contribution and instead encourage one to read the book if at all interested in a survey of prevailing views on the subject hell.

 

For those interested, my own studies have convinced me of annihilationism and conditional immortality, for which a thorough and convincing argument has already been articulated in The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical and Historical Study of the Doctrine of Final Punishment, Third Edition by Edward William Fudge.

 

*I received a temporary digital copy for review from Zondervan via NetGalley.

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