Interviewer: "Is it important for the average Christian to know what happens in hell, or is this more for theologians?"
First of all, it matters because when we say we are teaching the word of God, it is important for us to say what the word of God says. So just like any other subject that we teach on, if we purport to speak for God, we need to be careful and be accurate in what we are representing God as saying.
This excerpt comes from a great interview with Mr. Fudge on his views about hell and conditional immortality. I will be posting the transcript under the "Edward William Fudge" column to the right in the future. He is an intellectual man that loves the Lord. He is able to make years of in-depth Bible study understandable and concise.
As for why Christians should know what the BIble says about final punishment, I'd like to add a couple ideas to the ones I heartily agree with above.
Atheists, evangelism and a rant
Another example of this soft-pedaling arrived in my inbox from "Focus on the Family". They wrote: "At its core, hell is about being in a wrong relationship to the Source of all Love, Goodness and Life... As the writer of Hebrews puts it, "Our God is a consuming fire". We can be warmed and comforted, or we can be scorched and burned." Lord Jesus forgive me, but that is the one of the most stupid things I have ever read! I can't tell you how that makes my blood pressure rise.
"...Your enemies...Your foes... You will burn them up as in a blazing furnace. The LORD will swallow them up in His wrath, and His fire will consume them..." - Psalm 21:8-9
"His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." - Matt. 3:12, Luke 3:17 (remember that 'unquenchable' means that no one can put out or resist the fire, it does not mean that the chaff will be burning forever.)
"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned." - Jesus (John 15:6)
"... a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume God's enemies." - Hebrews 10:27Still, the wrath of God is not a pretty picture. It is heart-breaking and frightening and final. Final = eternal. However, in my opinion it is a far cry from painting our Creator as an everlasting tormentor. Complete destruction of evil and God's enemies lines up with a righteous and just Judge who will not dwell with sin.
I would venture that even the atheists could recognize the justice of the Owner cleaning His own house.