This book is arranged in the increasing popular (and helpful) style of commissioning authors who take diverging positions on a doctrinal issue to briefly express and defend their views. Following each author’s essay the other writers respond to what is written. The result is a beneficial debate on important subjects.
Four conceptions of hell are presented in this volume. John Walvoord handles the literal position that hell is a place of eternal flames in which the damned are tortured with fire. Unfortunately Walwoord’s article was far too brief and he did not deal with many of the important passages and issues.
William Crockett supports the metaphorical position, which teaches an everlasting punishment for the unsaved in hell, but does not see hell as a literal lake of fire. The judgment of the wicked is certain, but its form is not.
Zachary Haynes, a Catholic theologian actually diverges from the subject and writes a paper on purgatory. While Haynes does not interact much with the concept of hell he does present a good overview of how the doctrine of purgatory developed, how it is viewed today, and why Roman Catholics believe in it.
Clark Pinnock writes the conditional position. Pinnock believes in future judgment in hell, but believes that the damned will be annihilated rather than suffer eternally. Much of his argument is based upon the emotions surrounding the awfulness of hell, but he also defends a biblical case.
Evangelical Christians hold all three of the views on hell argued in this book. Apparently the most popular position today is the metaphorical, followed by the traditional. Annihilation is maintained by a small, but growing number of evangelicals. Of course the bottom line is not what is popular but what is true.