Is the Lake of Fire Torture?

Honored to have a guest post up today on Scot McKnight's blog! Here's the intro:

Many a street preacher has used the “lake of fire,” an image in Revelation, to depict God as a sadistic torturer who likes to roast unrepentant rebels like kalua pigs over an eternal spit once the stopwatch runs out.

But is torture really the point of this image? I would like to suggest, in contrast, that the lake of fire is an apocalyptic symbol for the smoldering rubble of Babylon. It depicts God’s judgment on empire, not the torture of individuals.

Let’s take a quick look at why this is a better interpretation.

Burning Down Babylon

The lake of fire shows up in Revelation, a book filled with apocalyptic symbols. There is a danger in interpreting these symbols too literally. To say Jesus is a lamb does not mean Jesus is on all fours, chewing grass and saying, “Baa!” When a beast rises out of the ocean, we do not expect Godzilla to come walking out of the Atlantic to trample down our cities.

If we did interpret these images this way, John (the author of Revelation) would probably scratch his head and say, “How did you get that?” We’d be missing the point.

We have to ask what these symbols represent . . .

Read the rest of the article here on Scot McKnight’s blog

 

Author: "The Skeletons in God's Closet." Pastor: Imago Dei Community. Husband, Father, Foster Parent.

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