The Bible predicted the soon end of death and hell many years ago, Revelation 20:14. Newer events presage another end to hell, the rejection of the long sanctioned church doctrine of eternal punishment. Internet discussion groups are ablaze with a re-evaluation of the church’s traditional teaching about hell. In the electronic age, the church can no longer dominate these discussions.
A wonderful change in thinking is reflected in the example of Rob Bell, the minister of a “mega-church”, who recently announced a coming book re-evaluating hell. Even prior to publication, this book has stirred a firestorm of comment on the internet. Religious traditionalists are denouncing
In 1997, Phyllis Tickle wrote a book entitled, God Talk in America. In that book she noted that the digital age guaranteed a much broader, more open forum for religious thought. Inevitably that would lead to church change. What we see over a decade later is the on-going fulfillment of what Tickle recognized.
Of course, many will claim that what the church teaches today has always been true and never will change. That is demonstrably not so. Under Catholicism, geocentrism was once an essential tenet of Christianity. That ceased when many embraced a new understanding. Within my lifetime, churches in the South have altered their view of racial relations. For hundreds of years, southern church’s supported racial inequality, citing the curse of Ham or whatever “biblical evidence” was expedient. Many churches promoted then what few churches would support today. The church undeniably adjusts its theology in accordance with shifts in public opinion. Financial necessity forces church theology to adjust or else. It has happened before and in a much less dynamic religious environment than that of the internet age.