Notable and Quotable II

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A flood of false doctrine has lately broken in upon us. Men are beginning to tell us "that God is too merciful to punish souls for ever...that all mankind, however wicked and ungodly...will sooner or later be saved." We are to embrace what is called "kinder theology," and treat hell as a pagan fable...This question lies at the very foundation of the whole Gospel. The moral attributes of God, His justice, His holiness, His purity, are all involved in it. The Scripture has spoken plainly and fully on the subject of hell... If words mean anything, there is such a place as hell. If texts are to be interpreted fairly, there are those who will be cast into it...

The same Bible which teaches that God in mercy and compassion sent Christ to die for sinners, does also teach that God hates sin, and must from His very nature punish all who cleave to sin or refuse the salvation He has provided. God knows that I never speak of hell without pain and sorrow. I would gladly offer the salvation of the Gospel to the very chief of sinners. I would willingly say to the vilest and most profligate of mankind on his deathbed, "Repent, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be save." But God\ forbid that I should ever keep back from mortal man that scripture reveals a hell as well as heaven...that men may be lost as well as saved.

--Bishop J.C. Ryle of Liverpool, quoted in this morning's sermon

Filed under: * TheologyEschatology

Posted August 26, 2007 at 2:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Laocoon wrote:

Robert Farrar Capon, in his Parables of the Kingdom, says “Hell is merely God’s courtesy for those who insist they want no part of forgiveness.”  Now it may be more than that as well, but Capon’s point is worth noting: if there is no Hell, doesn’t that mean that we will all be forced to be intimate with God for eternity?  We have names for people who force others to be intimate with them, and none of them are nice names.

Thanks, Kendall, for posting this.  And +Ryle, if you’re reading this, thanks for your good words.

August 26, 2:55 pm | [comment link]
2. samh wrote:

Amazing how appropriate Bp. Ryle’s words are, considering they are well over 100 years old.  Sad to see that Church has lost ground in an area it’s been fighting for that long. :/

August 26, 3:03 pm | [comment link]
3. Words Matter wrote:

Our sermon this morning was on going to heaven, and what we must give up to get there, the seven deadly sins, in short.  Father touched on hell along the way, of course, in terms not unlike Bp. Ryle’s.

August 26, 3:13 pm | [comment link]
4. drjoan wrote:

Is there a reference for this quote from Bishop Ryle?  After the sermon I heard this morning, I think our priest needs to take a look at the good Bishop’s exegesis!  In referring to Jesus’ talk about the “narrow door” and master of the house locking his door, our priest suggested that the interpretation lay in considering that that narrow door was “the door of ourselves.”  ??  You see, Fr. Jim isn’t really convinced Jesus is the only way nor is he convinced only some will be saved.  In other words, hell doesn’t exist.

August 26, 3:20 pm | [comment link]
5. robroy wrote:

Maybe someone should send a copy of the quote to Spong who had never heard of J.C. Ryle before last year.

Our sermon this morning by the bishop’s canon glossed over the narrowness of the gate and ended with the quote that “God will save all who serve Him.”

August 26, 4:08 pm | [comment link]
6. PamWhite wrote:

I must say that this type of theology is preached well and often in a small Episcopal?/Aglican parrish on Yonges Island, in southern Charleston county, SC.  It’s called Christ St Paul’s - oh, and Kendall is one of the preachers.  Good stuff.  Every week.  Perhaps some ofyou would like to worship with us when in Charleston?

Great sermon this morning, Kendall.  Convicting and uplifting, because you speak the truth in love!
God’s peace!

August 26, 4:14 pm | [comment link]
7. Kendall Harmon wrote:

.  Preaching at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford on October 22, 1939, C.S. Lewis Lewis observed that:

to a Christian the true tragedy of Nero must be not that he fiddled while the city was on fire but that he fiddled on the brink of hell.  You must forgive me for that crude monosyllable.  I know that many wiser and better Christians than I in these days do not like to mention heaven and hell even in a pulpit.  I know, too, that nearly all the references to this subject in the New Testament come from a single source.  But then that source is our Lord Himself.  People will tell you it is St. Paul, but that is untrue.  These overwhelming doctrines are dominical.  They are not really removable from the teaching of Christ or of His Church.  If we do not believe them, our presence in this church is great tomfoolery.  If we do, we must sometime overcome our spiritual prudery and mention them.

Later he describes all those present as “creatures who are every moment advancing either to heaven or hell,” challenging them all, even in the context of the war, “to retain” an interest “in learning under the shadow of these eternal issues.”

—“Learning In War-Time,” in Walter Hooper, ed., The Weight Of Glory And Other Addresses (New York: Macmillan, revised ed., 1980), pp. 20-21.

August 26, 4:17 pm | [comment link]
8. Harvey wrote:

A wise preacher, whose name I forget, made a thought provoking statement.  “God doesn’t send us to hell we go of our free will ...”  We choose Jesus for our Redemption and Salvation.  Only one other choice remains if you do not accept His Way..

August 26, 5:27 pm | [comment link]
9. john scholasticus wrote:

Here’s a question which is bothering me. According to the Acts of the Apostles, Paul was complicit in the death of Stephen, the first martyr. Although Paul’s own martyrdom isn’t explicitly mentioned in ‘Acts’, much less described, it is anticipated by numerous ominous foreshadowings. And, in any event, it happened. Is there any causal link between Stephen’s martyrdom and Paul’s? Is there any sense that Paul, for all his wonderful works post-conversion, had to atone for his part in Stephen’s martyrdom? Of course he was forgiven for his persecuting past but did this forgiveness imply that the slate was simply wiped clean and that he did not have to atone for Stephen and others?

August 26, 5:35 pm | [comment link]
10. Ross wrote:

#9 John Scholasticus:

Here’s a way to look at it:  Paul owed God a life… and he gave a life to God, his own.  Years of it, preaching and teaching and traveling and being thrown in jail or flogged from time to time.  His eventual martyrdom was all but inevitable, not because God required it, but because it was bound to happen if he didn’t shut up, and of course he didn’t.

Hopefully, most of us have not had anyone stoned to death for their beliefs; but we still owe God a life.

August 26, 5:47 pm | [comment link]
11. john scholasticus wrote:


Thanks, Ross. I suppose my question was equivocating between: what is the ‘proper’ theology on this? (to which you have given an answer) - and: what does Luke think about/imply about this? On the latter level, I’m not sure you’re right. And although both levels interest me, the latter is more pressing, because I’ve been trying without success these last few months to finish an article on ‘Acts’.

August 26, 6:02 pm | [comment link]
12. samh wrote:

It seems that it can be found in the essay “Lot’s wife” which can be found here on page 94.

August 26, 7:46 pm | [comment link]
13. samh wrote:

Let me rephrase that… the essay begins on page 94.  Bits and pieces throughout the essay appear in Kendall’s quote above.  A quick search on google books for any of the long phrases will take you right to it.

August 26, 7:48 pm | [comment link]
14. Larry Morse wrote:

#10: Then you are arguing that Paul found his way to salvation through good works? Larry

August 26, 8:16 pm | [comment link]
15. Philip Snyder wrote:

JS & Ross - I don’t know that there is any parallel between Stephen’s martyrdom and Paul’s.  First, Stephen was stoned and Paul was beheaded.  Second, Stephen was killed by a mob and Paul was killed by the State. 

I think it more likely that the story of Paul’s participation or witness of Stephen’s death is designed to show that even zealousness for God can lead to idolatry and sin.  In his zealousness for God, Paul approved of/participated in the death of Stephen and was participating in the judicial deaths of others.  This is where “works” righteousness rather than relational righteousness brings us.

Phil Snyder

August 26, 8:25 pm | [comment link]
16. DGus wrote:

I see that Hell was blowing in the wind today.  RC priest Dwight Longenecker blogged about Hell and against Universalism:
(The photo is of evangelist Bob Jones, Sr., who was capable of a hell-fire and brimstone sermon.)

August 26, 8:47 pm | [comment link]
17. Jim the Puritan wrote:

We also got into a discussion on this topic here:
“Bishop Christopher Epting: United in Mission”

August 26, 10:03 pm | [comment link]
18. Ross wrote:

#14 Larry Morse says, sniffing heresy in the air:

Then you are arguing that Paul found his way to salvation through good works?

To which I say:  first of all, no, I’m not arguing that.  That Paul—that all of us—owe God a life says nothing about whether salvation will or will not result from giving our lives to God.  Even if we knew for a fact that we were to be condemned at the end of our life, the debt would still be owed and it would still be our duty to pay as much of it as we could (which is little enough.)

Secondly, if you did catch me arguing for salvation through works—and who knows, you might one of these days—it wouldn’t bother me.  I’ve never been a big follower of the Reformation “solas,” which I think miss the point.  I don’t think God is nearly as interested in what we do or what we believe, as he is in what we are becoming at any given moment—and that becoming is shaped both by our actions and our convictions.  So the answer to the question of whether salvation comes by faith or by works is “Yes.”

August 27, 2:33 am | [comment link]
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