I let Moreland's words take root for a moment before standing and thanking him for his time and expertise. "This was a tough topic," I said. "I appreciate your willingness to talk about it."
He nodded and smiled. "No problem," he said. "I hope it was helpful."
He walked me outside, where we shook hands and I climbed into the car to head back toward the airport. The heavy traffic didn't bother me; I had plenty of time before my flight. In fact, I appreciated the leisurely drive because it gave me an opportunity to reflect on the interview.
Was hell the only option open to God? Is it just and moral? Is the doctrine logically consistent? Clearly, Jesus thought it was. And I believed that Moreland's analysis, overall, was sufficient to knock down hell as an obstacle.
That didn't mean I was totally comfortable with every single nuance of the points he had made. But it did mean his explanations, when taken as a whole, were strong enough so that I wasn't going to let this issue derail my spiritual journey.
While entangled in the inevitable Los Angeles traffic jam, I reached into my briefcase and rummaged around for the research materials I had compiled in preparation for my talk with Moreland. Finally, I managed to pull out the tape of a previous interview about hell that I had conducted with renowned theologian D. A. Carson.
Popping it into my tape player, I fast-forwarded to some remarks that seemed to be an apt conclusion for the afternoon:
Hell is not a place where people are consigned because they were pretty good blokes, but they just didn't believe the right stuff. They're consigned there, first and foremost, because they defy their maker and want to be at the center of the universe. Hell is not filled with people who have already repented, only God isn't gentle enough or good enough to let them out. It's filled with people who, for all eternity, still want to be the center of the universe and who persist in their God-defying rebellion.
What is God to do? If he says it doesn't matter to him, then God is no longer a God to be admired. He's either amoral or positively creepy. For him to act in any other way in the face of such blatant defiance would be to reduce God himself.i7
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