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March 5th, 2012 @ 6:19 pm by Kevin
The only real connections I can find between hell and demons are Matthew 25:41, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” and 2 Peter 2:4, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell [actually Tartarus, a term borrowed from Greek mythology], putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment.” But even in these cases, the fallen angels aren’t in charge of hell (or Tartarus), they’re imprisoned and punished there alongside the humans.
A clear connection between the devil and hell is Revelation 20:10, where he is cast into the lake of fire. But even if you want to interpret the passage in those terms, Satan is not running the show, he’s there to be punished, just like the fallen angels and humans in the previous passages.
So if something like the fire and brimstone version of hell exists, and Satan and his demons aren’t running the show, then who is?
Many Christians dodge this question by saying no one is in charge of hell, because hell isn’t so much a place as a state of being–complete separation from God and his goodness. But Annihilationists like Edward Fudge remind us the Bible teaches that God is not only the author but also the sustainer of life. Therefore, if there is such a thing as life after death–even life in hell–God must be the one who sustains it.
This appears to make the idea of eternal separation difficult to maintain, because if people are going to exist throughout eternity in a state of anguish, their connection to God can never be severed. They might perceive themselves as being separated from God, but he will have to be right there in hell with them. And the entire time, he will be perpetuating the illusion that they are actually alone. All the while he’ll also be celebrating with his beloved in heaven. Admittedly, you could argue that God sustains the lives of those in hell through some form of remote control, but you don’t have to be Gary Larson to begin to grasp the absurdity of that situation.
So if we really want to argue for hell as a place of eternal torment for the wicked, and we accept that nothing in the Bible teaches that Satan and his demons will rule hell as God’s agents of wrath, and if, in the end, Jesus will truly be all in all, then I can only see one conclusion…
Jesus is in charge of hell.
In fact, Mark Driscoll makes this very argument in his book Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, where he refers to Jesus as the “Lord of hell.” One of his proof texts for this is Revelation 14:9-11:
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
If you’re going to take this passage literally, then those in hell will be tortured forever in the presence of Jesus, so it’s not much of a stretch to say he must be the Lord of hell. But then again, if you’re really going to take this passage literally, you’ll also have to argue that Jesus is literally a lamb and that there really is a wine called God’s Fury and a special cup out of which the wicked will drink it. Otherwise you leave yourself open to accusations of reading Scripture selectively to support your presuppositions rather than submitting to its authority. And I’m sure no one would want to be accused of doing that.
Facetiousness aside, if this argument is correct, we have Jesus (literally a lamb) running hell. A man who taught us to forgive our enemies, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to forgive those who wrong us 7 x 70 times. A man whose most famous apostle taught us that love never fails and that it keeps no record of wrongs…
Does anyone else see a problem with this picture?