“Hipness” and “Hell”: Like Oil and Water

Liam Goligher has posted an interesting article on Reformation 21 about how difficult it is to be a “culturally cool” pastor and talk about hell. His final paragraph sums up this dilemma for the “hip” 21st century pastor:

Ever since that pesky Jonathan Edwards preached that sermon in Northampton Mass. we’ve been feeling uncomfortable about the subject. After all, how does one make hell sound cool? What ubitquitous joke could possibly introduce a sermon on the subject? How does one write lyrics about eternal flames that fits the genre of soft rock (Eternal Flame by the Bangles doesn’t count)? So what have we done? We have simply muted it. Hell has become noted for its absence. We don’t tell people there is a hell to shun. Hence our people struggle to understand the ‘penal’ in penal substitution; they fail to grasp why God would need to be propitiated; the idea that we might be able to pass the final judgment on the basis of the whole life lived suddenly becomes a possibility, and consequently sin becomes less serious, less horrific, less something to be abhorred and avoided.

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