Beck on the language of hell

Posted August 20, 2012
Dr. Richard Beck, chair of the Department of Psychology, argues that the language of hell is necessary to describe evil and suffering in a fallen world.

Natural disasters, mass shootings and great loss of life in the last several years have sparked discussion in Christian theological circles and the broader American culture about the language of hell. One ACU professor is a central voice in the discussion.

Dr. Richard Beck, chair of the Department of Psychology, argues that the language of hell is necessary to describe evil and suffering in a fallen world. "I like to think that the language of hell communicates God's deep investment with what is going on right now in this world," he says.

Beck explains in a recent Huffington Post article written by filmmaker Kevin Miller that hell is essential to how people make sense of tragic events and death in the world. Without the language of hell, we are left with only the language of politics, psychology, sociology or biology, which in his view are inadequate.

"The language of politics or psychotherapy trivializes tragedy. It's just not powerful enough," Beck explains. "That's where religion and the language of hell can speak to the deep sense that Creation has gone awry and that God in heaven cries out against these things."

Beck's insights were used extensively in Miller's upcoming film Hellbound?, a provocative, full length-documentary set for release next month. Hellbound? features an eclectic group of authors, theologians, pastors, social commentators and musicians. The film asks why we are so bound to the idea of hell and what our view of hell reveals about how we perceive God, the Bible and, ultimately, ourselves.

Read Beck's blog post on the language of hell.




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