Let me expand. It is important to understand the conflicting logic in Frank’s “concluding thoughts.” Frank and Peers are taking the abstract idea—Hell—and treating it as if it has properties that they grasp. Of course, Western culture has heard the traditions of Hell for so long in so many contexts that it doesn’t really occur to us that the details have been woven together from dozens of cultural customs and pagan sources that have nothing to do with Judeo/Christian roots. That is the “Fact.” All of those diverse traditions, all of those metaphysical assumptions, come together to shape OUR conceptual understanding. One intangible element of Hell’s characteristics is “monumentally unpleasantness.”
Notice that Frank and Peers concede ignorance—“Whatever Hell is”—and in less than a breath presume to know exactly what Hell is—Monumentally Unpleasant”?
They treat the argument over Hell’s characteristics as a triviality all the while insisting that Hell’s experiential reality is a bad thing. And this is what makes Frank and Peers’ comment so dishonest. Hell’s WHATEVER is the debate’s point: the reason people argue over Hell’s characteristics is because of its traditional function as the ultimate moral extortion. The assumption is that Man will not act right unless there is an eternal threat hanging over his head. We think that God must extort our moral action with the threat of eternal sanction. If Hell’s nature is a big WHATEVS, then why mention it at all? Why be fussed that people are making millions writing about it?
Frank Viola Says:
C) The greatest Christian minds have disagreed as to its exact nature, and there is much about it that’s subject to speculation.
I read this point and scratch my head. How in the world can a peer group with intellectual integrity go from the absolutist assertions of point A to this broad equivocation in point C? How can this rational discrepancy exist? I thought having peers assured accuracy?
OK … These are rhetorical questions. Hang on for a moment and I think you will grasp what this is really about.
Frank Viola Says:
D) Christians lose their way when they spend lots of time trying to analyze the fine points of hell while showing mild interest in knowing Jesus Christ deeply and restoring God’s eternal purpose in Him. I’d love to see the same passion that some Christians have over the hell debate applied to pursuing the Lord Himself.
E) many people will be surprised as to who makes it in the end and who doesn’t (see Luke 13:28).
F) as I’ve stated once before, when I get finished exploring and declaring the unsearchable riches of Christ with my brothers and sisters, I’ll get around to dissecting the anatomy of hell!
Point E is a Red Herring and irrelevant to any discussion on the existence of Hell. By his own definition, Frank and Peers could be the very people who end up surprised … so we’ll let God sort that part out.
I contend that D and F are the real point of this whole Hell “Concluding Thoughts” exercise: everything else is pretext and preamble.
As I was reviewing the list of logical fallacies I couldn’t find one that fit exactly, so I think I’m going to invent my own. I am going to call it Argument to the Moral Metaphysical Ideal, or maybe the Argument to Triviality, or maybe the Argument to Nanee Naee Boo Boo, I’m better than you. Here is the reality: “Concluding Thoughts” D and F are unadulterated sanctimony. Frank Viola and Peers are engaging in Doctrinal Narcissism of the deluxe class.
Christians lose their way? Is the way lost by analysis? Is the way lost by using “lots of time”? Is the way lost by trying to understand the “finer points”? How are we defining “Mild Interest”? How did Frank Viola and Peers become expert on the general state of Christian attention, focus, intensity, dedication, or practice? What yardstick must a man believe he holds to pronounce the rational pursuits of others as inferior?