Saturday, April 2, 2011

Four views on Hell (Part 2/4): The Metaphorical View

As I said in my last post....for the next few days I'm summarizing in 300 words or less the four predominate views of hell:  The Literal view, the Metaphorical view, the Purgatorial view, and the Conditional view.  Now, you can read entire books on just one of these views...so go easy on me as I try to summarize the view, probably badly, in 300 words or less.


View #2 - The Metaphorical View

The Metaphorical View, in contrast to the literalistic attention to word usage, takes a more symbolic approach to the biblical interpretation of hell. Paying more attention to literary technique, the Metaphorical View takes the words used in the New Testament as part of a genre meant to symbolize the horror of hell. One author puts it, “In Jewish literature, vivid pictures of hell are given to show that God has ordained an end to wickedness. The writers do not intend their descriptions to be literal depictions of the fate of the damned, but rather warnings of coming judgment” (Four Views on Hell, Gundry). Therefore, any attempts to detail the nature of hell utilizes the biblical text improperly based on the fact that metaphors are being used. So, what exactly do those who hold the Metaphorical viewpoint believe about hell? There seems to be two overriding beliefs (among others). First, hell is complete banishment from God’s presence. The metaphors used in both the Old and New Testaments describing hell give the impression that hell is a place where God is not. Second, hell is a place of eternal conscious punishment.  Taking for example the verses quoted in the last blog (Luke 16:19-31), while the metaphorical view wouldn't define the nature of hell itself (full of fire, darkness, etc.), the story does depict a rich man who is conscious in hell. So like the Literal View, the Metaphorical View does not have a problem suggesting that a similar state of consciousness awaits those destined for hell.

Is this helping?  OK, tomorrow....the Purgatorial View.

2 comments:

Bill Armerding said...

Hi Joe and thanks for this thoughtful commentary. I missed the first one - how do I get back to it?

joseph.david.white@gmail.com said...

Thanks Bill! I can think of a few people who could probably do a better writing job (you're in that list!)...but thanks alot! You can just go to our main page of the blog: www.joeandheidiwhite.com and scroll down to the first post which started it all (rob bell's new book) and the last post describing the literal view of hell.

Cheers!

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