How important is sound doctrine?
I have received some criticism about making 'too big a deal' out of the possible error of the traditional doctrine of hell. It has not been a popular topic of discussion among Christians. I realize I am biased because of my extensive investment through study, but I actually thought believers would show some concern. I expected them to be like the Bereans....
"...these were more noble-minded... examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." - Acts 17:11
After all, we are told to:
"Examine everything carefully..." - 1 Thess. 5:21
"Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching." - 1 Tim. 4:16
There is a significant reason for those who teach to be extra diligent:
"...teachers.. will incur a stricter judgment." - James 3:1
We must be vigilant of those who are "...teaching as doctrines the precepts of men." - Matt.15:9 (see also Mark 7:13)
Those with spiritual authority have a weighty responsibility to "...speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine." - Titus 2:1
He must "...hold fast the faithful word...that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict." - Titus 1:9
As believers, we must all be "...nourished on the words of the faith and of sound doctrine..." - 1 Tim 4:6
"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort... for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine... and will turn their ears away from the truth, and will turn aside to myths." - 2 Tim. 4:2-4
So, what is the way to obtain and hold sound doctrine? Know the Scriptures and know the One who gave them to us!
"...you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." - 2 Tim. 3:15-16
As for studying about final punishment and judgment (including "hell" which is a word that isn't even in the original language, but has become such a common concept in Christianity) it is important because it was considered "an elementary teaching" and "a foundation" of belief. (See Hebrews 5:12 and 6:1-2)
Now that we see how clearly sound doctrine is promoted and commanded in Scripture, let's take some advice from Paul on how to deal with opposing views:
He teaches us "...not to wrangle about words, which is useless... handling accurately the word of truth... avoid worldly empty chatter... refuse foolish and ignorant speculations... they produce quarrels... we must not be quarrelsome, but be kind... with gentleness correcting those in opposition." - 2 Tim. 2:15,23-25
If the Church is in error on a major doctrine (as we have been in the past, before the Reformation), shouldn't we actually make 'a big deal' out of that? Yes, it will be unpopular, but we should be more concerned with truth and alignment with God than with human precepts made powerful by tradition.
So again I exhort you: "Examine everything carefully!"