Larry Dixon, an American lecturer in theology, has written a comprehensive defence of the traditional belief in the conscious eternal punishment of the unbeliever in hell. This doctrine has been discussed amongst evangelicals in recent years and Dixon interacts with some of the most notable revisionists. The book quotes from a wide range of authors and would be of interest to the reader wanting to see the defence of the traditional doctrine. In particular, the book tackles three central questions: can universalism (the belief that everyone will be saved) be true? Is it possible that non-Christians will be annihilated rather than eternally punished in hell? Can non-Christians receive God’s grace after death? To each of these questions Dixon replies in the negative. Clearly most evangelicals would agree with his views of the first and last of these positions, but there are a number of believers who differ over the second position.
The final two chapters look at the teaching of Jesus regarding hell and the need for believers to be engaged in urgent evangelism, ensuring that people do not go to hell.
Although I was convinced by Dixon’s intention that his defence of the traditional teaching is designed to lead to a love for non-Christians, I was not always certain that Dixon is fair to those with whom he disagrees.
However, for anyone wanting to think seriously about these issues, this book will provide some interesting material to develop your thinking.
Review written by Neil Hudson, Elim pastor & church consultant