A report from evangelical churches in the United Kingdom calling for “greater emphasis on the teaching of hell” has brought a swift response from the president of Britain’s Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“Hell as a teaching is not the thrust of the gospel,” comments Pastor Cecil Perry. “The salvation Jesus offers is the total revelation of His love. Jesus’ messages were based on repentance and membership in the Kingdom of Heaven. His focus was on men and women accepting salvation.”
The 150-page report entitled “The Nature of Hell,” published on April 15 by the theological commission of the Evangelical Alliance, urges “church leaders to present biblical teaching on hell to their congregations,” as well as promoting the traditional view of hell in schools.
The report does admit that some evangelicals reject the concept of eternal torment and believe in the total annihilation of the wicked, a view held by Adventists.
“[The report] also admits that a significant minority of evangelical Christians believe in eventual annihilation of people condemned to hell,” Perry observes. “The Seventh-day Adventist Church agrees with the Biblical view on the nature of hell as the final disposition of sin and sinners. It does not endorse the historical, traditionalist view of hell as a place of eternal punishment or anguish. We believe what Jesus taught in the New Testament-that sin has consequences and that God will bring the world into judgment and will reward each person according to their response to His proffered salvation.”
Pastor Perry states that the report is not the way to witness for the Christian faith.
“The message of hell is in stark contrast to the message of hope and love and tends to engender fear,” he concludes. “Our message as a Church should not be so much stoking up the fires of hell but waiting for the baptism of the fires of Pentecost to be more effective witnesses to the millions on their way to perdition.”